As the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is sublime. A digital currency for the digital age that transcends all borders and government clampdowns.
That said, Bitcoin isn’t very anonymous. Anyone can inspect the ledger and trace transactions and account balances. While nobody knows you own an account, in theory, many exchanges enforce “Know Your Customer” (KYC) validation, which governments, exchange employees, or hackers can use to identify you and your Bitcoins.
Nobody needs to know how many Bitcoins your own, or how you spend them. What you do with the currency of the future is your own business, so here’s how to buy Bitcoin anonymously and keep it that way.
How to Buy Bitcoin Anonymously
Before you can anonymously store and use Bitcoin, you need to own some. There are hundreds of ways to buy Bitcoin, but not all let you remain anonymous. Here are some of the best ways to buy it.
1. Use a Peer to Peer Service
By buying your Bitcoin from another person, there’s no need to reveal any personal information. You could pay with a bank transfer, but if you want to stay off the grid, then paying with cash or trading for other goods or services is the best way to buy Bitcoin.
Naturally, buying Bitcoin with an Amazon gift card (or any alternative payment method) will depend on how amenable your seller is. Services such as LocalBitcoins can link you with local people who want to sell Bitcoin without taking any commission, and these tools list the payment methods accepted by the seller, along with their community-rated seller status.
If you can’t (or don’t want to) find a friendly stranger to sell you Bitcoin, then have you considered a friend or family member, providing they are a crypto enthusiast? Trading with a trusted party simplifies the process.
2. Buy Bitcoin with an Anonymous-Friendly Exchange
Several big exchanges force you to provide personal information before they will allow you to trade. Fortunately, many small services exist which either don’t care about who you are, or are specifically designed to allow anonymous trading. By buying Bitcoin from an anonymous-friendly exchange, you can avoid the tracking, regulation, and government-compliance that so often follows the big exchanges.
Decentralized exchange Bisq enables you to buy Bitcoin with no KYC or identity verification. It supports bank transfers, along with various other third-party services such as Western Union.
3. Use a Bitcoin ATM
Bitcoin ATMs are springing up all over the place. These work like a cash ATM, and let you buy Bitcoin from a physical kiosk with a variety of payment methods. By choosing the correct ATM, you can buy Bitcoin with cold, hard, cash. These are often untraceable, but you do need to check the machine first. Many different Bitcoin ATMs exist, and sometimes they need an account with an exchange to use.
Our guide to Bitcoin ATMs covers the intricate details, along with steps to find your local Bitcoin ATM.
4. Trade Another Cryptocurrency for Bitcoin
If you’re struggling to buy Bitcoin anonymously, then have you considered buying another cryptocurrency? This sounds counter-intuitive but it’s not. If you buy an anonymous cryptocurrency such as Monero and then trade that into Bitcoin, it’s very difficult to link you or your bank account to the Bitcoins you own.
You could use an anonymous-friendly exchange to do this, or a peer to peer service or friend. Or, you could use a cryptocurrency swapping platform such as ShapeShift. This requires a free account, but the regulations are very lenient.
5. Use a Prepaid Debit Card
If cash or other alternative payment methods don’t work for you, then why not use a prepaid debit card? These rarely need your personal details to buy, and you can use them to buy Bitcoin, safe in the knowledge that it cannot get tied to you.
You still need to be careful around exchange KYC verification, but this should give you another option in your anonymous Bitcoin arsenal. This won’t work for credit cards, as many credit cards block crypto purchases, and as credit card sales get made using someone else’s money, it’s hard to register for one anonymously.
How to Stay Anonymous with Bitcoin
Once you own some Bitcoins, it’s wise to take steps to stay anonymous. You could take drastic steps here, such as using public library computers or microwaving your hard-drives after every use, but there are easier ways to stay anonymous when accessing your Bitcoin.
1. Use a Bitcoin Mixer
A Bitcoin mixer, or Bitcoin Tumbler breaks the link between specific Bitcoins and your wallet address. If you don’t want an exchange to know your true wallet address, or you want to jumble-up or otherwise clean up or obscure the origin of your Bitcoins, then this is the way to go.
Be careful though, as Bitcoin tumblers are often associated with illicit activity.
Read our guide to Bitcoin tumblers to learn more.
2. Use TOR or a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) or The Onion Router (TOR) network both serve to obscure your IP address.
This provides several benefits. Primarily, they mask your web activity, including accessing any exchanges or your wallet (in some instances). It helps to prevent exchanges or other services tracking you, or monitoring your Bitcoin interactions. If you’re in a country with a harsh cryptocurrency stance, then you may need to use a tool such as these as your first line of defense against overreaching governments.
Buy Bitcoin Anonymously Today!
These techniques should help you to buy Bitcoin anonymously, and to remain anonymous when using Bitcoin. When combined they add up to a very strong anonymity profile.
This is not a definitive list, so if you know of a technique we missed then let us know. And don’t forget to secure your private keys, because if you don’t own your private keys, you don’t own your Bitcoin!
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