Is anonymity still possible?
Long gone are the days of pure anonymity when buying, selling, or trading cryptocurrency. Bitcoin began its career as the preferred currency of the shady black market online underworld kings. The original platform and purchasing protocols required no user verification or any personally identifying information, only cash.
Today almost all exchanges have implemented, or are in the process of implementing, know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money-laundering (AML) procedures. These aforementioned procedures completely ruin nearly all chance of remaining anonymous. KYC and AML procedures have come into place in recent years due to many crypto enthusiasts continuously pushing crypto towards become mainstream. With that comes the involvement of governments, banks, regulators, and other institutions that require more ‘security’ when dealing with crypto.
But was crypto ever really anonymous? Afterall, you have to have a computer, a wallet, and a trade account of some sort if you’re to engage with Bitcoin or any of its relatives. Therefore crypto has never really been anonymous and it certainly isn’t anymore. Right” Well, in my opinion crypto has always been ‘pseudonymous’ and true anonymity has always been hard to obtain if not impossible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t.
We understand. You don’t want anyone knowing what you’re up too, and certainly not the government or your nosy boss. That’s why we’ve created this easy guide to help you gain a high level of anonymity without being a tech genius. (If your willing to do the work!)
Note: This guide supplies information strictly for purchasing Bitcoin with suggestion for other currencies. This guide is in no way any type of financial advice or a foolproof guide to avoiding identification.
Buy it from Shady Rick (The guy who lives behind your building)
Okay, well maybe his name isn’t Rick. And maybe he doesn’t actually live behind your house or apartment building, but I think you know what I mean. I’m not telling you to go to some shady black market dealers garage in the inner city with graffiti on the walls and put yourself in imminent danger. Instead you can use a handy dandy little website called localbitcoins.com.
LocalBitcoins.com was founded back in 2012 to provide Bitcoin users and traders a more efficient way to locate Bitcoins for sale rather than posting in forums. Before localbitcoins.com, you actually did buy all your Bitcoins from people like shady Rick. Face-to-face interactions and the exchange of cash for Bitcoin in person was common before 2012 and still goes on today. More formal in person exchanges for Bitcoin would also take place like the stock market exchange of yesteryear. People would stand up one after the other agreeing to pay the next highest price, and the Bitcoin went to the highest bidder.
By using localbitcoins.com or one of its popular alternatives (meetup, facebook and basically any social media site with groups) you can arrange to meet up with someone in person in your area and exchange cash for Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency.
If you’re afraid that shady Rick might do you wrong and you don’t trust to meet him in person and show him your face, don’t worry.
Buy it from Shady Rick Online
We get it, shady Rick and his compatriots can be a bit unnerving. There’s no need to go see him in person if you don’t want to because you can do it all online! The con of doing it online is that you’re going to have to sacrifice some level of anonymity. When conducting a trade online you can’t use cold hard cash. Your going to have to connect your bank account or credit card.
Localbitcoins.com in particular offers an escrow service to conduct these type of transactions. By utilizing this service it ensures that the buyer and seller are both well protected from any type of faulty transaction and it doesn’t reveal your identity to the other party, only localbitcoins.com.
Make sure to checkout the housekeeping section towards the end of this article before conducting any online transactions!
What are those weird things everyone’s talking about? Bitcoin ATMs?
Yah, they’re real. And they’re popping up everywhere.
Bitcoin ATM’s can already be found in almost every major city. You can use coinatmradar.com to view a constantly updating map of Bitcoin ATM’s. BUT WAIT! If you want to keep your identity secure don’t click on the link unless you’ve already gone through our good housekeeping list and made sure that your location is turned off.
Buying Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies through an ATM can be a bit tricky, so you need to pick your ATM carefully. Some ATMs require you to enter account information that can connect to your real world identity and often directly to an exchange. Some ATM’s also charge outrageous service fees that may not be worth you anonymity.
But if you can find an ATM that fits your qualifications, you can walk up with your baseball cap on, put some cash in, get your bitcoin on a paper wallet, and walk away. From there you can either directly transfer it to your wallet, or go through a third party mixing service to further hide your location and wallet address.
Good housekeeping tips for maintaining your anonymity
- Cover your tracks
You know how in all those spy movies they use burner phones and fake names? It’s not a joke. If you want to be a real certifiably anonymous Bitcoin badass, you need to do the following.
- Always use a fake name
Don’t tell people your real name. They can obviously find and identify you if they want.
- Burner emails & accounts
Don’t use your real email address when signing up for localbitcoins.com or anything else. People are able to track email addresses back to real world identities and you don’t want that.
- Use an anonymous search engine (NOT Google)
Google tracks EVERYTHING. Every search, every click, and if you have a Google Home, everything you say. Now, I don’t want to freak you out because I’m not Snowden.. But seriously, don’t use anything that can track you. A good alternative to Google is my personal favorite, duckduckgo.com.
- Hide your IP address or constantly change it.
While IP addresses do change on their own if you move around and connect to different servers, it’s a good practice just to hide your IP in general if your going for any level of anonymity.
Just do it. (If you can)
- Change your public address regularly
If you don’t regularly change your public address, you’ll begin to accrue a list of transitions that all trace to the same wallet. With enough interest and time, someone will be able to find out who you are if they want.
- Use privacy coins when possible (Monero, ZCash)
Privacy coins are designed with privacy in mind. They are virtually untraceable. Hence why Monero is the most commonly mined cryptocurrency by hackers and most requested by kidnappers.
- Mixer/Tumbler Services
I’m not going to lie. These can be VERY expensive. But, if you really want to be an anonymous crypto badass, this is the way to go. Mixer services break up your Bitcoin into a number of smaller fragments, scramble them all up and send them to different addresses multiple times before ultimately landing in your wallet. It’s highly secure and makes it impossible for anyone to trace your crypto. But as I said, it comes at a price.
Don’t open your mouth
You know your best friend Dave in the office? You can trust him with anything, right? WRONG! Turns out, Dave loves to spread gossip. Dave is not as cool of a dude as you thought. Significant other? Watch your step. Some people have bigger mouths than others and there’s no need to leave an opportunity for someone to blow your identity.
The government is eager to tax crypto (and those taxes are high!), so you don’t want them to know you have any if you can help it (I’m not suggesting anything here). And let me tell you somethin pal, it doesn’t take much for the IRS to start digging and investigating into your private life if they find something suspicious.
As you can see, it’s completely possible to keep your identity anonymous even in today’s modern world without being a tech genius. You can be a total crypto badass with the hoodie and awesome pseudo name just by putting in some work and a bit of money.
Nothing comes for free in this world, not crypto and certainly not anonymity. But it’s all obtainable just by putting in a few dollars, and a bit of grunt work.
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