What is a Burner Wallet? What is a virtual credit card? What is private email forwarding?
By: Louis Narayn and Lisa Kass
As you probably know, the term “burner phone” is used for a phone with a number that isn’t linked to the user, commonly used for illegal activity. Despite its bad stigma, the use of the term “burner” has been widely adopted throughout the crypto and NFT field.
Burner wallets and burner exchange accounts are commonly used, not to be anonymous, but to have a safe way of sending and receiving funds that doesn’t risk any of your long held assets.
The media has long since infiltrated the NFT and Crypto space, thus giving the impression of complete privacy; this is not the case, as the majority of trusted exchanges are KYC (Know Your Customer) certified and centralized. This will ensure minimal illicit activity to take place on the blockchain, as you will be identified for each purchase.
A burner account in crypto is a regular exchange account, or crypto wallet, that’s purely for sending, receiving and minting assets. This would be a worry-free wallet, as it would be your second account and the contents would be of low value. Burner accounts can also be used to get rid of unwanted NFTs as it’s common to see malicious airdrops sent to accounts. The purpose of these airdrops is to send the victim an offer (commonly via OpenSea), and upon accepting and signing the contract, the victim will have their wallet drained. Burner accounts act as a firewall between your assets and the world.
What is a virtual credit card?
A virtual credit card is a service that allows you to substitute a unique replacement number generated by software, in place of your real credit card number. Virtual credit cards are useful when you’re ordering from sketchy websites, or signing up for any sort of subscription: deleting a virtual credit card is often easier than canceling those orders or subscriptions. If a website leaks your virtual card information, the card number is useless to scammers, because it’s tied to a specific retailer, or limited in the amount it can purchase. You can lock each virtual credit card to a single merchant (one could be used for Netflix and one for another monthly subscription, for example). You can also set spending limits, or set a card for one-time use. Some virtual credit card companies offer you the option of leaving the merchant’s name off of your credit card statement.
What is private email forwarding?
If you spend a lot of time online, you will likely have dozens of accounts spread across the internet, with sites and services ranging from retail stores to random apps that require your email address.
Creating a free email account explicitly for shopping is good, but using email forwarding that will randomly obscure that address allows you to pull the plug if spam starts coming in.
SimpleLogin generates a “nonsense” email address that will forward the email to your real account. This basic security features what you want to see for any service attached to email, including support for two-factor authentication and open-source development.
The New York Times states, if you use the Firefox web browser, Firefox Relay is another option, though it gives you only five aliases, in contrast to SimpleLogin’s 15. If you have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can use the “Hide My Email” option in Sign in with Apple for a similar effect (not to be confused with the upcoming iCloud+ feature, also called Hide My Email, which will work in any app), but it’s not supported everywhere.
Are there ways to trade cryptocurrency anonymously?
Some exchanges, such as ‘Tornado Cash’, offer a platform that allows you to exchange crypto with very minimal tracking: they will take your crypto with one address, give you a code and when you want to withdraw your crypto, they will send it to you via a second address.
Unfortunately, like a lot of groundbreaking ideas, people will exploit them.
“Tornado Cash was subsequently used to launder more than $96 million of malicious cyber actors’ funds derived from the June 24, 2022 Harmony Bridge Heist, and at least $7.8 million from the August 2, 2022 Nomad Heist.” — U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY
If security is a big concern for you, switch regularly between burner accounts to avoid malicious tracking. Remember to always use official links, official websites and official discord servers; do not give into FOMO, stay cautious and vigilant, especially when investing.