How I Got Put on an Internet Blacklist for Checking Gift Card Balances

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Cloudflare Captcha Blacklist

Cloudflare Captcha Blacklist Hell

As many of you know I sell a decent amount of gift cards. Essentially, I purchase gift cards during discount deals and sell them at a higher price. Buyers still get a discount on their favorite brands and I make a profit (hopefully) and earn a decent amount of travel rewards. 

There are a few big annoyances with this type of endeavor however. For example, my efforts to streamline and organize my gift card reselling have sometimes failed. I generally find this out when I do a “sweep” and find cards that were not sold or ones that have been set aside for later. I have some processes in place to find these cards during “sweeps” so they aren’t lost forever, but it isn’t ideal. 

Anyway, the other day during my latest effort to get all caught up and organized, I had to go through a number of cards that had been set aside for awhile. While processing these cards and determining what to do with them, I ended up checking their balances. These cards were from several brands, meaning I had to use multiple balance checker websites. And that is where the problem began.

Fraud Prevention Gone Rogue

To prevent fraud, most company’s have a Captcha on their balance checker sites. This prevents bots from checking thousands of potential card numbers until they find one that works. What many of you may not know is that one company runs a vast majority of these Captchas and they track your IP to monitor for suspicious activity.

The other day as I was checking the balances, I noticed the Captchas became longer and more complicated as I went from site to site. By the end, I was having to verify 6-10 of the complicated type of Captchas for every single card. At that point I gave up, hoping that things would turn to normal later.

Captchas Everywhere!

Except that never happened. Shortly after that fiasco, Captchas began popping up on sites where I have never seen them before. I tried to use Top Cashback for example and received this. 

Cloudflare Captcha Blacklist

Keep in mind that screen comes well after I have verified myself to login. I have to do another Captcha (or 3) to actually click over to a partner site to earn cashback. And it isn’t just Top Cashback. So many sites are giving me this loving treatment.

Cloudflare Captcha Blacklist

It Gets Even Worse

While these popups everywhere are annoying, it gets even worse. This morning I was trying to purchase a gift card on eBay and I ended up getting an endless loop of security verifications for the first time in FOREVER. In the end I didn’t get any cards and I suspect it is tied to this. I also use Last Pass as my Password Manager and now my account requires re-authentication almost every time I use it. That never happened before.

So why did this happen?

Cloudflare Captcha Blacklist

It turns out the reason this has happened is because one company (Cloudflare) runs those Captchas and has basically listed my IP as problematic. My behavior of checking gift card balances must have seemed bot like to Cloudflare and that is all they needed. Now I am in Captcha hell.

How to Fix It

As you can see from the graphic above, there aren’t really any ways to fix this other than to let time go on. Since I am not affected by viruses, I’ll just have to wait until Cloudflare drops me from their list. It’s pretty frustrating, but I have learned my lesson and will work to avoid this in the future.

Cloudflare Captcha Blacklist

How to Avoid the Captcha Blacklist

In the future I plan to use a few tactics in order to avoid the Cloudflare Captcha Blacklist:

  • Use A VPN – VPNs allow you to connect to the internet through a different server than normal. This means I won’t show up to Cloudflare as myself and thus shouldn’t get my IP flagged when checking gift cards.
  • Use Other Connections – VPNs are nice, but often their IPs are problematic as well since a lot of people use them. A lot of sites (and Cloudflare) sometimes try to ban VPNs so this might not work all of the time. In those cases I can use someone else’s trusted WiFi connection and even my cell phone connection to check.
  • Don’t Check Too Many – The other obvious solution here is to avoid checking multiple gift card sites at once. I can break up my searches over time in order to avoid the dreaded blacklist.

Conclusion

Getting on the Cloudflare Captcha blacklist is a frustrating thing and I honestly didn’t know much about it before it happened to me. If you check a lot of gift card balances (or do other suspicious looking things) then it’s probably wise to use a VPN or at least space out your searches to avoid the Captchas of death. I guess I’d rather my gift card balances be protected, but this is annoying. 🙂

Has this ever happened to you? Let us know in the comments!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Change the MAC address on your WiFi router, then reboot your modem, then you will get a new IP address. You can clone a MAC address from another device. You may want to clear cookies etc just in case that has an effect. Or try incognito.

  2. I get challenges far more often when I use a VPN than without. I also find that portals refuse to track purchases when using a VPN. Just FYI

  3. Yes I’m in Captcha hell all the time. I can’t do searches sometimes either. I just thought it was because I have 250 open browser windows on my phone. All good info to know. I guess it’s their own loss cuz when this happens I just stop shopping and buying things.

  4. It happened to me for the first time about three weeks ago. Not only was I getting endless CAPTCHA’s on a number of sites, but Google refused to do searches for me for a couple of days. Also, the biggest issue with the CAPTCHA’s is that they are often ambiguous or just plain wrong.

  5. Funny enough, my problem has been the opposite… I tend to get the captchas when I use a VPN… Go figure.

  6. Careful, happened to me even by activating cards on gc.com. I used a VPN at the first captcha and problem solved.

  7. You could the Tor browser to hide your IP. Based on Mozilla’s Firefox it works a little like a VPN in that the site you’re visiting sees a different IP address than the one you’re actually using.

  8. Technically CloudFlare doesn’t run any websites, but they do provide anti-DoS (denial of service) services to a large swath of the internet. They’re basically a middle-man/gatekeeper between your computer and the websites, to prevent attackers from bringing them down.
    So when your IP kept making what amounts to the “same” request over and over, CloudFlare’s job is to make sure you’re not about to try to grind the website to a halt. They use Google’s reCAPTCHA (https://developers.google.com/recaptcha/) to slow you down, and yes they will track your IP across the net.
    The interesting thing is, this shouldn’t have happened after 10-20 queries. It should take a LOT more than that in a pretty short amount of time to trigger this response. How many were you doing? The algorithms are all automated so while you can request to be removed, you’ll probably fall off of the naughty list after a day or two anyway. (Unless, again, I’m vastly underestimating the amount of queries you did)

  9. did u try reaching out to cloudflare to see if they could manually verify you and take you off the blacklist? I wuld be interested to read a follow-up post on that.

    • I haven’t. From what I understand time should fix it, but if it keeps on maybe I’ll contact them. I did read a few cases where people had issues trying to get Cloudflare to help, but if it keeps up maybe I’ll contact them.

    • Good point. I’ll fix that. I more meant as a guest on someone else’s trusted WiFi. Most of those sites are encrypted and secure however. But as you said, probably not a good idea.

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