There are a few ways to increase your anonymity online when making purchases with increasing layers and levels of difficulties. The initial addition of a large sum of money that is traced to you or a bank account is typically the pain point, with each additional transition adding another layer of safety for your information. Simple data security is enough for the average criminal or institution, if you are looking for absolute security from law enforcement or government agencies then you will need to take additional steps.
- Create a Google Pay account, link an anonymous debit/credit card to it, then you are able to transact with an extra layer of protection.
- Gift cards are untraceable, if you are able to purchase them without connecting them to your credit card.
- Some cryptocurrency is more difficult to track then others, and some crypto can actually make it EASIER to trace you as the whole point of crypto is to create an immuteable ledger of transactions. If one of your transactions is identified, your Bitcoin can easily be traced by anyone.
- Cash is the best anonymous payment method.
Identity theft, fraud, and breached databases are common occurrences in the digital age, every day there is something in the news about digital fraud that can cause you to worry. But what if there is a way to make or receive payments without snoops knowing what you are buying or selling? In the past, underground sites like The Silk Road provided this service (albeit sketchily). But as more people become consciously aware of the importance of online anonymity, mainstream services have emerged that offer anonymous payment methods.
These services allow you to use minimal information about yourself to make a purchase or to transfer funds. When transferring money, often what is at risk is your email, home address, credit card number, and name. If this information falls into the wrong hands, someone may steal your identity and use it for a fraudulent purpose. According to reports, in 2019 over 14.4 million consumers in the US alone became victims of identity theft, which translates to one in five individuals. Furthermore, over 500 million Facebook users had information leaked online.
What payment methods are anonymous? Find out below.
Common Sense Security Practices for Online Transactions
Before we get to the anonymous payment methods, it is vital to talk about how to secure your online identity and device. The thing is most often, financial fraud happens when someone gains access to your device. For example, if you lose a laptop that has no passwords, the person who finds or steals the device will have easy access to any information on the device.
The Bureau of Justice and statistics says that 55% of the victims that resolved financial and credit problems stemming from theft, did it in one day. Consequently, if you lose your social security card or if the information is stolen. Act immediately, that means calling 1-800-772-1213 if you live in the United States (Social Security Phone number).
That said. If you regularly transact online, you should:
- Use a VPN on public networks: although we discourage making transactions via public networks, some occasions may arise where you have no choice. A VPN is an additional level of protection that will help keep your transaction and any information you share private.
- Use private browsing: private browsing protects your information from anyone who has access to the device, it will not save cookies or any of your activities. But private browsing is not a substitute for a VPN.
- Install an ad blocker: If your computer has malware, malicious ads may pop up. Some may lead you to dummy sites that want to steal your information.
- Activate two-factor authentications on all your accounts, make sure your phone has a screen lock, do not use USB charges in public spaces, keep your device updated, and always read app and program permissions while installing.
Can you use a fake name on PayPal?
You may, but it will cause problems when you want to transfer money. What will happen is PayPal will ask you to verify your account, if you cannot, the service may freeze the account with your money in it. You may get your money back in six months, or it may remain locked in the account.
Furthermore, PayPal reports to credit bureaus. So, no, PayPal is not an anonymous payment method. But there is a workaround. PayPal gives you the option to use cryptocurrency as a funding option. That means you may use Ethereum, bitcoin, Litecoin, or Bitcoin cash to make online purchases.
What to remember:
- PayPal reports to credit bureaus and adheres to banking laws.
- When transacting with cryptocurrencies your security is only as safe as the exchange where you purchased the coins.
Anonymous Payment Methods
1. Gift Cards/Prepaid Cards
Gift cards are a form of payment very popular with scammers because they provide unmatched anonymity. You may buy a gift card online, at your local store, Wal-Mart, and many other locations without sharing any information that may lead back to you. Because of that, the money is virtually untraceable.
Furthermore, you do not have to send the gift card to the receiving party. All they need is the number on the card.
Lots of people, especially the elderly, have lost money through gift cards. So, be careful with anyone asking for payment via this method. But if you are sure of the transaction and want anonymity, using a gift card is the best option. Additionally, asking for payment in gift cards is rife with fraud because of the anonymous nature and easily available blank cards.
2. Anonymous Prepaid Credit Cards
Visa, Mastercard, and American express offer anonymous credit cards that you may use to purchase services only. What makes these cards anonymous is, you do not have to apply for approval which may require you to share information about yourself. Furthermore, when using anonymous prepaid cards, you do not have to worry about purchase tracking.
How does it work?
Unlike regular credit cards, you must have money to deposit. Once deposited, you cannot reload the card. There are reloadable and virtual anonymous prepaid cards that you may consider.
Anonymous prepaid credit cards are available online, in department stores, or supermarkets.
What to remember:
- Do not use your real name, phone number, or address when purchasing an anonymous prepaid card.
- Small-denomination cards do not require ID in most places.
We recommend avoiding reloadable anonymous prepaid cards because some vendors may require your bank account when reloading.
3. Google Pay
Google pay allows you to fund it with a virtual credit card. Consequently, you may create an anonymous email account (link to anonymous email), open a google pay account, and use it to transact. You may use Google Pay on your phone or computer. It works much like Apple Pay, meaning you may withdraw money from any ATM that has a contactless symbol.
Another advantage of using Google Pay is that you may link the same card across multiple accounts. This method is only as secure as the account you’ve attached as well as the method that you fund the account.
Popular amongst sex workers, epayservice offers anonymous international and local payments, virtual credit and debit cards, and instant electronic payments. Although the company has terrible reviews on Trustpilot, it is still a legit service. Many of the complaints claim that the service asks for too much information to complete electronic payments. But their debit cards allow you to withdraw up to $15,000 anywhere on the planet, and there are no loading fees.
5. Cash App
Cash App is an app that allows peer-to-peer transfer of funds via mobile. The service is semi-anonymous because you must have a bank account linked to it. The issue with Cash App is that it is only available in the UK and US.
But the app is free to use, and you may receive up to $1000 through the app monthly.
6. Apple Pay
What makes Apple Pay one of the best anonymous payment methods is, the service does not track, watch, or log your purchases and financial activities. Consequently, it is difficult for anyone, including the government, to trace the transaction. According to Apple, When transacting. Your device does not send your payment card number to the app. However, Apple retains the approximate date and time of the transaction, the app developer name, approximate amounts spent, and whether the transaction was completed.
Note: turning off location on your phone or device will prevent Apple from logging the date and time of the transaction and location.
7. is it safe to pay with crypto?
Yes, it can be safe to pay for services using cryptocurrency such as bitcoin if the right precautions are taken. The issue is that your transactions are only as secure as the exchange or place where you buy or sell your cryptocurrency. Bitcoin is built to be an ummuteable ledger, this means that each transaction is traced digitally on-line. Although it doesn’t have your name, each transaction can easily be traced to your wallet
The value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can also change at any moment (Historically this has been good for people holding crypto). However, sending and receiving crypto is possible without the need for traceable information.
To send and receive cryptocurrency anonymously, you will need a reliable bitcoin payment service.
What to remember
- Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency transactions are irreversible.
- The government cannot manipulate cryptocurrency value. Thus, bitcoin is immune to inflation.
- Cryptocurrency value can change at any moment.
- You need a cryptocurrency wallet to buy, store, sell, or transfer crypto.
- Cryptocurrencies do not have legal protection.
8. Cash Payment
Taking out the middle man is the most secure anonymous payment method. No documents -or logs leading back to you -and you do not need your bank account. However, this option is limited by geographical location, and potentially meeting face to face meaning it does not always work.
How to Secure Online Payments
As mentioned, whenever you make an online transaction, there is a risk of losing or sharing personal information. First, make sure that you are sober or consciously aware of what you are doing. For example, if you are at an ATM, always check what is happening around you. When behind a computer, read before you click.
- Choose an anonymous online payment method (the less information required, the better).
- Choose an anonymous method such as gift cards or anonymous prepaid credit cards.
- Use Two-Factor-Authentication when using services such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
- Use VPNs when transacting on public Wi-Fi.
- Use Incognito mode so that your purchase is not stored locally on your device OR
- Use a Tor Browser to browse completely anonymously
- Protect your keyword and device
- Secure your e-mail
- If you lose your device, log out from that device immediately.