BereallyAnonymously online means learning how to pay for online products and services anonymously too.
Learn how to make anonymous online payments.
Here at Cogipas.com we share many free and open-source privacy tools and techniques, but sometimes you just have to pay for good privacy, and that part can be difficult to accomplish without revealing a crack in your anonymity armor.
After all, the cards and accounts you typically use to shop online are inherently tied directly to your real identity.
Any service or provider that values privacy, from thebest VPN serviceToUsenet provider, keeps no logs of your activity - and that's a good thing. For the vast majority of people, it is sufficient that your activities when using the service cannot be traced back to you.
'Anonymous online payments' Content (select to expand)
But people involved in very sensitive activities know that an attacker with sufficient motive and sufficient methods (e.g. traffic analysis) could trace your online activities back to your service provider or app provider and gain access to the information stored, to reveal your identity. After all, most vendors and sellers who pay you usually have your name, address, email address, and credit card or PayPal details.
The only way to eliminate this risk is to avoid sharing personal information in the first place. And that's only possible if youpay anonymously.
In fact, given the prevalence ofidentity theftAndmass data theftnowadays, the less personal information you provideanyThird the better.
If you're scratching your head and wondering how on earth you're supposed to anonymously pay for anything online, don't worry. We'll walk you through the best methods of making anonymous payments online, including the pros and cons of each, and a brief introduction to how to use them.
But we won't lie:it is not easy.So ask yourself if it's really necessary in your case.
For example, if you are a political activist who acts on the fringes, then yes. But if you download content occasionally, then no: you can count on a non-logging torrent VPN or Usenet provider.
the less personal data you provideanyThird the better
You must always use an "anonymous" email address for anonymous payments
Before we get to the anonymous payments themselves, there's one more thing you'll need - and that's aanonymous E-Mail-Address.
Most online payments and many registrations require a working email address. But using your everyday, personal email address obviously destroys any chance of remaining anonymous.
For this reason, you should always use an anonymous email account for anonymous payments. Luckily, it's actually quite simple.
The only question is whether you want onesingle purposeorAaccessibleE-Mail-Addresse.
What is the difference?
Single purpose email address
ASingle Purpose EmailAddressis one that you use similar to your regular email account. You can check it regularly and it serves both to receive and to archive your messages.
But in the case of your single-purpose email account, you only use it for one purpose: your anonymous payments. This means that no other emails, Facebook notifications, newsletter subscriptions, etc.
This method is the top choice for people who regularly make anonymous payments - or plan to. But it's also a good option for people who keep records or want to leave open the possibility of recovering forgotten passwords for the service or product they paid for.
In some cases, it can even make sense to have multiple single-purpose email accounts, each serving its own purpose but kept separate and separate from the others.
The key is never to use the single purpose email account for any other purpose.
Disposable email address
The other option is adisposable, one-time, or "disposable" email address. These couldn't be simpler. You open one, use it once, and then never use it again.
The disadvantage of this method is that you cannot refer back to these emails or receive future emails related to the signup or purchase you used it for. For many online purchases, this does not matter, since messages can be received and checked on the online portal of the service itself, and not by e-mail.
Choose which of these two options works best for you. But you must take one more precaution.
Hide your IP address when accessing your anonymous email address
Complete this step based on which of the above two methods for anonymous email appeals to you the most.
Unfortunately, even an anonymous email address can be linked to yoursIP Addressthrough email stamps or server logs retained by the email provider.
top tip– What is Tor? It is afreiand easy way to surf the web while hiding your true IP address.
Or, you can access your anonymous email account over a public WiFi network that doesn't require registration information, or through an Internet cafe that accepts cash payments. Either way, it's about severing all ties between your identity and the anonymous email account.
Whether you're using free WiFi or paying cash for internet access, also make sure the location doesn't have security cameras just to be safe, as the cameras could show you were using a specific connection at a specific time.
You can also use open WiFi or a cash-accepting Internet cafeAndUse the Tor browser. 🙂
The four ways to pay anonymously online
Anonymous payments are possible but not easy, particularly due to efforts to curb money laundering and tax evasion and post-9/11 banking regulations.
We have ranked these payment methods from the most anonymous to the "just" private.
1) Anonymous payments with prepaid gift cards paid for in cash
- Advantages:Easy to use, can be easily purchased with cash; Most anonymous
- Disadvantages:Getting stuck with unusable credits; Not widely accepted
Prepaid gift cards are generally the best and easiest way to pay anonymously online. They are widely available and you can buy them in personBox.
For example, some of the online privacy services that we highly recommend, such asPrivates Internetzugangs-VPN, accept payment with gift cards from major brands including Starbucks, Best Buy, Target, Macy's, Walmart and dozens more.
These cardscannot be traced back to youif you buy them with cash. If you actually sign up for PIA VPN or any other online product or service and also use your anonymous email address while hiding your IP address, no one in the chain will have itanyyour personal information. 🙂
Many VPN services accept gift card payments, including one of our favorite Private Internet Access VPN.
top tip- To subscribe to PIA VPN with one of 100+ gift cards, scroll down the page to the 'Pay anonymously with many major brand gift cards' heading and select 'Get VPN access' (see screenshot above). For example, a $25 Starbucks gift card gets you 100 days of VPN access!
Tips for buying prepaid gift cards
Keep these important things in mind when buying a gift card for anonymous payments.
First, make sure you use itBox. Using bank or credit cards only creates a way to track you.
You don't have to take such drastic measures.
Second, for ultimate privacy, buy the gift card from a store that doesn't have security cameras. Why? Since a genuinely motivated party (think "government sponsored") could potentially find out where the card was purchased, then contact the store regarding the time of purchase and obtain the surveillance footage at that time that ties you to the purchase. Because of this, it is important to ensure that either the store does not have cameras or you use other means to ensure your identity is not captured by the camera (e.g. by wearing a hoodie or hat and sunglasses or evenAnti-Face Recognition Measures).
That last paragraph might sound really paranoid or over the top, but we want to cover all the bases for you.
Aside from these 2 tips, using prepaid gift cards is super easy - and so much easier than Bitcoin (option #2 below).
Disadvantages of prepaid gift cards
A minor downside to prepaid gift cards is that sometimes you arewith a small balance lefton the card too small to spend. In such cases, easyDonate the gift card balance to charity.
Another downside is just thatNot many services or providers accept gift card paymentsat the moment. However, there are more and more. Plus, you can rest assured that those who do this are the kind of companies that value your privacy very much.
2) Anonymous payments with Bitcoin
- Advantages:More flexible than gift cards, more anonymous than methods #3 and #4 below
- Disadvantages:Can be difficult to use; volatile value
We won't delve too far into the what and how of Bitcoin because you don't have tofullyunderstand that it benefits from semi-anonymous payments, but here's the gist.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and its value lies in its decentralized nature. Instead of requiring a central authority or middleman like a bank for transactions, it instead relies on peer-to-peer technology, similar to BitTorrent or even Skype.
You can think of Bitcoin like a foreign currency that can be bought with or exchanged for other currencies; or used to pay for goods or services, trade, invest, and more. But you can't hold it in your hand like a bill, and it's not as widely accepted as cash or cards.
Making payments with Bitcoin is straightforward once you get the hang of it. In fact, most of the leading privacy services and tools now accept bitcoin as a payment method. Here, too, leading data protection services such asPrivateInternetAccess VPNhappily accepts bitcoin payments.
top tip– Bitcoin's volatility puts many people off, but it's still one of the best ways to remain anonymous when making online payments.
While there are many other cryptocurrency options besides bitcoin, some of which emphasize privacy even more than bitcoin, most of them don't have the popularity or acceptance of bitcoin and are still working on the bugs, making them a little more niche and hard to use .
Make a purchase with Bitcoin
Before you can shop anonymously online with Bitcoin, you need to set up your accountBitcoin “wallet”. In short, this is the app that lets you send and receive bitcoins.
Once that's done, you mustfinance it. A credit card or bank payment is often required to initially fund your wallet. That may be counter to the goals of this post, but since all subsequent payments you make with bitcoin are virtually untraceable, it doesn't matter if you originally funded your bitcoin wallet using a method linked to your identity. If that still worries you, you can start by funding your bitcoin wallet with gift cards or even cash (see the headline below).
Then, when purchasing an online service or product, simply select Bitcoin as your payment method and you will be provided with a Bitcoin wallet address. To make a payment, copy and paste the recipient's (provider's) bitcoin address and enter the amount to be paid into your bitcoin wallet. Or, if you're using a mobile bitcoin wallet, just scan the QR code.
In just a few seconds you will receive a notification confirming the payment. You can complete the rest of the signup and setup process (remember to use your anonymous email address as described above!) and start using the service or product without worrying that your activities will be affected by the transaction can be easily traced back to you.
As you can see from the description above, once set up, bitcoin payments can be as easy as PayPal. But the first steps are often too much for most people and that's why we rank gift card payments as the first best option.
Strictly speakingBitcoin is not completely anonymous(here's another onegood to read). Although it takes a sophisticated adversary to track you through Bitcoin purchases, it is theoretically possible. Bitcoin is still a far better option than credit cards or bank payments to protect your identity. There are even a few more ways to further improve your anonymity when using Bitcoin.
Better bitcoin anonymity: Buy your bitcoins with cash or gift cards
Not only can prepaid gift cards (option #1 above) be used to directly pay for products and services like VPNs, you can also use gift cards to buy bitcoin.
Or there is the cash option. pages likeLocalBitcoins.comConnect potential bitcoin buyers with potential bitcoin sellers in their area so they can meet and trade in person. Some sellers even let you shop online, but paying in cash offers maximum anonymity (but who wants to lug around pockets full of cash at Bitcoin's current prices?).
Better bitcoin anonymity? Using a "mixer" service
When you use a shuffling service, you are essentially lumping your bitcoins in with other users' bitcoins, which are then "shuffled" and redistributed. You end up with the same number of bitcoins (minus a small fee), but the mixing process makes it harder to trace them back to you since the bitcoins you ended up with weren't purchased directly from you.
This still doesn't make you completely anonymous (since shuffling could theoretically be reverse engineered), but shuffling further isolates you from your online transactions and payments.
Also, you can end up with bitcoins that were used to buy nasty stuff on the dark web.
top tip– To learn more about how to make Bitcoin completely anonymous, please read the recommended book,How to stay anonymous online: A step-by-step guide.
3) Private (but not anonymous) payments with prepaid credit cards
- Advantages:Easy to use; Just bought it with cash
- Disadvantages:Not anonymous, just private
Let's get this straight: prepaid credit cards arenotanonymous. But they add an extra "ring" for anyone trying to trace your transactions or online activity back to your identity to jump through. So they serve a certain value.
They are also easy to use. Most major credit card brands now offer prepaid versions of their cards, and you can buy them at drugstores or gas stations, and even vending machines, anywhere.
The secret of prepaid credit cards isbuy them offline in cash, as no verified name or bank details are associated with the ticket purchase.
Once the card is purchased, you can use it anywhere regular credit cards are accepted.
Tips for prepaid cards that need activation
However, many prepaid credit cards require activation. If this is the case, make sure you buy one that has oneOnline Activationprocess that is most of them.
For the online activation process, follow a step similar to creating an anonymous email account: mask your IP address with a VPN or Tor browserBeforego online and start the activation process.
During the activation process yourself, provide your anonymous email address and a fictitious name, address and any other information requested. DonotGive someone else's name, address or other details as it could get you in trouble.
The activation process for prepaid cards is not strict as the credit card company already has your funds.
Since there is no verified name associated with the card, you can normally use any name (including a fake name) when shopping with it. Because it's a prepaid card, the company that issued the card essentially ignores the name transmitted with the purchase transaction details.
Use PayPal anonymously
As an added bonus, you can get an anonymous prepaid gift card this wayUse PayPal anonymouslyto. How? Simply!
Follow these steps to sign up for a service or product that accepts PayPal:
- First, make sure you hide your IP address using a VPN or Tor browser.
- Go to the service or product's purchase page and select the Buy Now (or whatever) button branded PayPal.
- You will be redirected to the PayPal website. Select "I don't have a PayPal account" even if you do.
- A new page will open where you can pay with your anonymous gift card.
Provided your real IP address is not revealedAndYou have completed the above steps to purchase the anonymous gift card, you have made an anonymous PayPal purchase. 🙂
4) Other anonymous or private payment options
- Advantages:Lots of potential and possibilities
- Disadvantages:Not fully proven yet
There are several emerging services that act as disposable virtual credit cards such as:Entropy orMaskMe Blur, which place an intermediary between you and the products or services you buy online.
Abine Bluryou can use virtual temporary credit card numbers.
These are wonderful in theory, but they're still relatively new services and the jury is out on their performance.
For example the Forbes article,I tried shopping online anonymously (and it was a pain in the butt), shows that it is not that easy.
That means we can't recommend them just yet.
How to Pay Anonymously Wrap-up
There you have it! It's a long, complicated post, but now you have all the knowledge and tips you need to make anonymous payments and purchases online.
Choose the method that makes the most sense for you. It depends on what kind of sensitive activities you conduct online and how concerned you are about the risks of identity theft, privacy breaches, and online tracking and profiling in general.
Stay safe out there!