How to Pay Anonymously. The Ins and Outs of Anonymous Payment Methods
(Technical writer, ex-robot manual creator gone privacy enthusiast/VPN expert)
• Use TOR or other methods to hide IP address. When Bitcoin transactions are transmitted over TOR, there is no way to determine where they originated. • Always use anonymous email addresses. • Start a new Bitcoin address wallet for each transaction. • Even when you might be tempted to do so, never use your real information, especially your address. • Use a mixer service when using Bitcoin Share
In a world of data snatchers and cyber pirates, we already know that finding ways to make online purchases anonymous is a must. Doing so can shield personal information, minimize the amount of data that is shared with companies, and most importantly, protect against fraud. Yet, it’s not always easy to navigate the world of anonymous payment methods. There are twists and turns to navigate with each of the services that exists. Some are fast and easy-to-use, while others are location specific and impossible to top up with money. We want to make sure that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, even if you are indeed supposedly anonymous.
So put those sunglasses and hat on, and enjoy waltzing through these services with true anonymity.
1. Masked Cards:
The free disposable credit card service, created by Abine.com, is totally legal and allows you to make purchases online with a fictitious name. What’s great about this service is that the card can never be automatically charged – as is typical with other credit cards – without your approval.
Simply sign up for the credit card online and then use it to purchase items online, and, in some cases, in stores, by giving retailers the card details. It works just like a pay-as-you-go SIM card, in that you add money to it, and then use it.
Masking literally means that all relevant information about you, including your address, is masked by the service, including how your transactions are shown to your credit card providers.
“Masked cards are useful because they leave no trace of your real credit card on all those databases where you shop,” says Abine co-founder and CEO Rob Shavell. “The principal behind what we do for security is very simple: Hackers can’t steal what they don’t have.”
First, there is the issue of card limits. Masked cards generally don’t allow you to spend more than $500. Another con with masked cards is that you cannot use them for recurring payments, such as that gym membership you hoped for. Finally, masked cards can get ever so confusing. Imagine using one false names for one thing, and another false name for another thing. It’s downright complicated.
What to do about it:
Use masked cards for simple purchases that are not over $500 and that don’t require monthly payments – like phone bills or fitness memberships.
2. Prepaid cards:
You can get your hands on a pre-paid card practically anywhere, especially drug stores and supermarkets. All you have to do is pay with cash and the card is yours. You can also get one online, but that would require giving your data to the company from which you purchase it. What’s best about this option is that the card is entirely untraceable.
Although it sounds simple to get a pre-paid card, there are some obstacles to keep in mind. Most pre-paid cards – unlike masked cards, which have a maximum limit – have a minimum limit of $20. Even when you can find something for less, they usually ask you to sign up with your name, email and address, thereby destroying the whole aspect of anonymity. Finally, the cards are rather tricky to top up. If you try to do so online, you have to enter your personal information, giving away your identity entirely.
What to do about it:
Consider why exactly you would opt for a pre paid card. Essentially, it’s a fancy gift card.
So, the logic serves that if you choose to get a prepaid card, you should use it as a gift card – a one-time, simple anonymous purchase option.
Imagine having the ability to buy, sell, invest and purchase any good or service with a brand new currency.
Certainly the most popular choice on the market, Bitcoin prides itself as “an innovative payment network and a new kind of money.”
“It uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks; managing transactions and the issuing of Bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network.”
Most importantly in terms of this article, it is indeed possible to send and receive Bitcoins without giving out any of your information, and, what’s more, transactions are not tied to the identity of users.
Sounds like a dream world. Actually it is. Well, to some extent.
Bitcoin addresses can be linked to real identities, if these real identities are used in combination with the Bitcoin addresses in some way. This becomes particularly so when sending donations and using a real address, or when sending money to someone else and using your address.
Perhaps the biggest challenge with Bitcoin is that all transactions are completely transparent and traceable. This unfortunately allows Bitcoin addresses to be clustered together, and be tied to the same user.
Hmm, not so anonymous after all.
How to use it:
This article outlines, very simply, the tricks of the trade and how it is possible to swiftly and cleverly buy Bitcoins anonymously.
Certainly there are a slew of other services that allow you to pay anonymously for items and services. These include Litecoin, Ripple, OpenCoin, MintChip, and Linden Dollars. Each services has its plusses and minuses.
Our advice when selecting any of the services:
Define specifically what you are looking for in a service. Knowing this, you will be able to pick the best option for you.