How often do you shop online? If you’re making online purchases semi-frequently, then you ought to know that companies are surely trying to skim your data so that they can harvest it and sell it. It’s a complete invasion of privacy.
Many of the data companies collect about you is through the purchases you make and the payment methods you use. Reducing the amount of data these companies collect is as easy as changing the way you make payments online.
Before we discuss the various anonymous payment methods you can use, it would be smart to invest in a VPN (Virtual Private Network) before moving forward with any of these methods. With a VPN, you can anonymize your network connection, hiding your real IP address. ISPs, governments, and corporations only need your IP address to track you online; using a VPN prevents them from getting just that.
Cryptocurrency exists to give users complete and total anonymity when making purchases online. And with there being multiple forms of cryptocurrency, your options are anything but limited.
However, the number of places that take cryptocurrency as a valid payment method are few and far between, even in 2021. And due to crypto-wallets frequently requiring an Internet connection, crypto becomes near-unusable when away from any source of internet.
Major card providers like Visa and Mastercard offer users the ability to pay for prepaid debit cards. These debit cards work similarly to a regular debit card, but instead of being linked to a bank account that it draws funds from, a prepaid debit card is loaded with a specific amount of money. When the card runs out of funds, that’s it.
Prepaid debit cards can be used online and offline. They make a great anonymous payment method with no trace or connection between the card and your identity and banking information.
However, certain cards require you to go through a signup process, usually prepaid cards that can be “refilled.” These aren’t as anonymous, as the signup will typically ask for personal information. Avoid these.
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There is also the option of using prepaid gift cards. A prepaid gift card is a card that’s only good for a specific store. So, for example, a Subway gift card can only be used at Subway. The good news is that virtually every retailer, restaurant, and gas station offer gift cards. So, your options are limitless—as long as you can track down gift cards for all the places you need them for.
That’s the main issue with using prepaid gift cards: having to buy them constantly. Lugging around a bunch of prepaid gift cards can get annoying very quickly. However, they are worth using for retailers and restaurants you don’t visit often.
All in all, prepaid gift cards are limited in where they can be used, and despite a prepaid option existing for most retailers, constantly buying new gift cards can become a repetitive process.
If using cryptocurrency doesn’t seem like an option to you and getting prepaid debit and gift cards isn’t an option, you can always look to payment apps. These work similarly to PayPal; you link your debit or credit card to your account, send and receive money through the app, and vice versa.
There are two apps talked about in this list, the first one being Venmo. Venmo has no doubt become one of the most popular payment apps available. Venmo also happens to be a subsidiary of PayPal.
Venmo is great if you’re looking for an easy-to-use payment app, and it does have the capability of offering an anonymous experience. That said, Venmo pushes its unique features—namely a friends list and a social feed where transactions are made public.
So while it can be used anonymously, it may be hard to avoid using the app’s social functions, AKA the main feature of Venmo.
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Cash App has gained a lot of traction in the last two years. One reason for this is that Cash App allows its users to remain anonymous while collecting and sending money. It accomplishes this by requiring only a username. You don’t need a linked bank account, nor do you need to give away any personal information.
However, there is one caveat. As of writing this, Cash App limits users who have not verified their identity. Verifying your identity removes the anonymity the app once afforded, but don’t worry—you can still receive up to $1,000 a month without needing to verify your identity.
There is also the chance that the Cash App asks you to verify your identity after a certain period of time. You won’t have a choice in the matter. Instead, Cash App will hold your account until you verify your identity. For this reason, you cannot use fake accounts as a way to retain anonymity.
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Companies are constantly on the lookout for ways to steal your data. After all, user data equals money, so the more user data they can steal, the more money they make. And payment data is a popular form of data for said companies to collect.
Fortunately, there are a plethora of anonymous payment methods you can use to anonymize your presence when online shopping.
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