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Author Topic: Is my bitcoin wallet address traceable back to me?  (Read 16440 times)
puresoul108
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May 10, 2013, 03:28:25 AM
 #1

I am just now learning about and using bitcoin. So my question is, if I want to publicly display my bitcoin wallet adress somewhere to receive monies (BTC) is there any way for that wallet address to be traceable back to me and they can find out who is the owner of that BTC wallet address?
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May 10, 2013, 03:35:09 AM
 #2

I am just now learning about and using bitcoin. So my question is, if I want to publicly display my bitcoin wallet adress somewhere to receive monies (BTC) is there any way for that wallet address to be traceable back to me and they can find out who is the owner of that BTC wallet address?

Every Bitcoin transaction is traceable.   If you publicly give out a Bitcoin address that makes it even easier to tie that address to your identity -- especially is that "public display" is on a web page indexed by Google or some other search method as then it is as simple as Googling that address. 

For improved privacy, use a different Bitcoin address for each transaction (i.e., give out the address for each request).  There are techniques to obtain =an even greater level of privacy (e.g., shared send from Blockchain.info/wallet, or mixing service).

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May 10, 2013, 04:35:09 AM
 #3

The best way to protect your privacy is to do business under a pseudonym.  That way, your bitcoin address is tied to your pseudonym (which can gain reputation, just as in the "real" world), but your pseudonym is not tied to your real identity.

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history." --Gandhi
puresoul108
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May 10, 2013, 06:44:14 AM
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There are techniques to obtain =an even greater level of privacy (e.g., shared send from Blockchain.info/wallet, or mixing service).


Is shared send from Blockchain totally untraceable to anyones personal identity?

What are you talking about when you say "or mixing service" ?

Thanks
puresoul108
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May 10, 2013, 06:52:17 AM
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The best way to protect your privacy is to do business under a pseudonym.  That way, your bitcoin address is tied to your pseudonym (which can gain reputation, just as in the "real" world), but your pseudonym is not tied to your real identity.

How to do that because as far as I know there is no walets I can use at this time that one can get under a pseudonym. I mean all the services like for example Mt.Gox or Blockchain, or whatever it may be, require every one that signs up for their services to use their legal name and also show legal documentation proving the name your using to hold the account with them is your actual traceable legal name.

So I do not see how one can use a pseudonym. Did I misunderstand you or something Huh
BigJohn
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May 10, 2013, 08:13:22 AM
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People will know exactly that information which you yourself give them. So if you put your address somewhere, they'll know your address, and whatever other information is associated with the place where you displayed it.

Say you make a web site and put a page up with your address in it. People will know that whoever made that page also controls that address. If the information is publicly available, say from the website's whois info, then that can be associated with the address.

Maybe you could be more specific about what you're trying to do. It'll be easier to advise you then.
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May 10, 2013, 02:27:43 PM
 #7

It depends on who you do business with. If you send bitcoins to someone who knows who you are, then yes- it's traceable back to you. All anyone has to do is find who you sent it to.

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May 10, 2013, 02:54:09 PM
 #8

Given incentive enough, the addresses you use are traceable back to you, unless you are a perfect anonymity paranoid with some tech skills.

First at all, if you connect to internet using an ISP service you are paying, the IP you use is linked to you. If i have access to the bitcointalk server logs and your ISP information, then i know who you are. Same is true for a gmail account, an irc connection, or whatever activity you do using your IP. This includes sending transactions. While the blockchain won't store your IP, the bitcoin network, at some point, knew that you used that IP. A determined attacker could monitorize the network gathering this info (or have it stored).

So, let's say you created an address to receive funds and published it in site example.com. If someone can access the logs of example.com and your ISP info, he could know who you are. Your ISP data, in most places, should be law protected and difficult to obtain, in my country a judge has to allow access to it, but the true is that linking a range of ips to one user is not that hard (again, given incentive enough).

There are few ways to remain 100% anonymous. Tor is your best bet, and even using it you still need to be paranoid and higienic to not leak any information about real you.

Note that this info applies to pretty much every activity on the internet, not just bitcoins.

puresoul108
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May 10, 2013, 11:38:10 PM
 #9

It seems there is some confusion here about my question let me try to be more clear.

If I use the Tor browser or serf of some coffee shops free wifi or whatever so the IP is not at all traceable back to me and make a payment to someone that has no idea who I am, and I do not give any personal information at all, and I make the payment using bitcoin, is there any way to trace out my legal identity only using the information from the bitcoin payment?
BitcoinUK
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May 11, 2013, 12:39:13 AM
 #10

It seems there is some confusion here about my question let me try to be more clear.

If I use the Tor browser or serf of some coffee shops free wifi or whatever so the IP is not at all traceable back to me and make a payment to someone that has no idea who I am, and I do not give any personal information at all, and I make the payment using bitcoin, is there any way to trace out my legal identity only using the information from the bitcoin payment?

even using tor here are three ways to track you

1. you use a coffee shop. some how the agencies track the tor nodes back to the coffee shop, ask for their CCTV, use face recognition software, blah blah blah

2. you get busted by the police for a unrelated crime, they take your computer, scan it and find your public addresses that you use. they then match that to other transactions. blah blah blah

3. you do a private deal with a shady person involving delivering products to your address. the other party is actually a police officer in a sting investigation.... blah blah blah

bitcoin is about as anonymous as cash, it all depends on how you trade with it and what kind of information you pass long with it. if you have a pocket full of cash and you do a deal infront of CCTV, your at risk. if you do a deal with an undercover cop, your at risk, if cops raid your house and find related cash from another crime, your at risk.

simple answer is that bitcoin is digital cash, no credit card application forms, no Bank ID required. but still not 100% anonymous

i do not condone illegal activities but the way mixing services work is simply depositing funds into a exchange and then withdrawing, chances are you don't get the same coin back. much like buying a TV from a store, never unboxing it and then returning to a different cash register in the same store for a refund
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May 11, 2013, 01:05:56 AM
 #11

It's traceable, it's just hard.  But not hard enough for the FBI or whoever you're scared of.

Guide to armory offline install on USB key:  https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=241730.0
puresoul108
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May 11, 2013, 01:15:36 AM
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even using tor here are three ways to track you


Ok thanks, but I am not talking about 1, 2, or 3, in your scenarios.

I am exclusively talking about tracing out an identity just through the Bitcoin payment itself.

How difficult is it, say, for a regular person or privet investigator (NOT the fbi) to trace out the identity of a person using bitcoin to pay for something?
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May 11, 2013, 01:49:40 AM
 #13

Well it depends on how careful you are.

If you beg for coins on this site using that same address then someone can google this post and then hack / scam the site to getting your email.

If you carefully mixed your coins into a new address then it's going to be really tough.

Guide to armory offline install on USB key:  https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=241730.0
dserrano5
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May 11, 2013, 07:18:00 AM
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I am exclusively talking about tracing out an identity just through the Bitcoin payment itself.

If your transactions combines several inputs and at least one of them can be linked to you, the whole transaction can be linked to you. Unless you routinely make transactions than combine inputs from some other people (with their collaboration of course) and can later prove so.

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May 11, 2013, 10:12:57 AM
 #15


even using tor here are three ways to track you


Ok thanks, but I am not talking about 1, 2, or 3, in your scenarios.

I am exclusively talking about tracing out an identity just through the Bitcoin payment itself.

How difficult is it, say, for a regular person or privet investigator (NOT the fbi) to trace out the identity of a person using bitcoin to pay for something?

The bitcoin payment will store, roughly, a date, an older unspent transaction and a destination. Using only this info would be hard to link anything to anyone. But in the real world bitcoin is not an isolated system. When you overlay the information of the blockchain with other data then is when links and relations can be established.

It seems there is some confusion here about my question let me try to be more clear.

If I use the Tor browser or serf of some coffee shops free wifi or whatever so the IP is not at all traceable back to me and make a payment to someone that has no idea who I am, and I do not give any personal information at all, and I make the payment using bitcoin, is there any way to trace out my legal identity only using the information from the bitcoin payment?

Given this case, where you "do not give any personal information at all" and "your IP si not traceable", obvioulsy, you should be pretty safe. But let me state that this conditions are not easy to achieve. Also, past transactions or who sent you the coins could leak information again.

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May 12, 2013, 09:09:35 AM
 #16

the fbi very famously subpoena'd google for a backdoor to some guy's password lock on his phone.

The one where you draw the little dots together.


Let's not panic too hard, folks. Facial recognition is far away from being useful in positive ID situations. It's hard to break it all down, but getting a 100% guaranteed positive ID on someone is hard as hell.

If you go and say, murder your neighbor, and leave some of your own fingerprints in your own blood, you could absolutely get away with it.

If there is no reason to suspect you, they would have no reason to take your prints or a DNA sample.
If you haven't been convicted of an offense in the past, your prints won't be on file.

I don't want to super get into it, and I'm not god or anything, but see above, and google it. You can strap on all the tinfoil hats you want to, but when it boils right down to it, cases fall to the roadside with the perp literally right there, ready to go, because of incompetence, privacy rights, and straight up human error.

When you add in the lack of understanding the average officer of any organization, be it interpol, fbi, police or whatever, has for tech in general, and then throw in insane foreign currencies and CCTV facial recognition, well at that point you might as well start screaming enhance at your monitor and expecting it to sharpen a tiny image to perfect clarity. magically.

I spent a lot of time studying professional forensic science, got to know a couple fed agents who were teachers on their free time. Having nothing to hide, I was deeply inquisitive and attempted to be as challenging as possible.

I learned a lot.

1: see above. Backdoor to a password lock. subpoena. seriously. THAT HAPPENED.

2: For real, for IT pros, I was uh.... well I was very frequently embarassed for them.

Us guys here, some members here and such could really benefit these forces as additions to it, but at this point it's kind of a mess of misunderstanding and assumption both on the part of the public and the fed.

I know an anecdote isn't anything, at all, especially on the internet.
But seriously, let's try not to worry too much. Stop watching CSI. seriously, please. I'd send you LTC to stop forever. it's making EVERYONE stupid.

Seriously though. subpoena'd google.
I googled it because I really couldn't post it without it:
http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2012/03/16/google-subpoenaed-by-fbi-who-failed-to-break-into-pattern-locked-samsung-smartphone/

They aren't magic, crime stopping wizards. Solve rates aren't great in this country, and I don't think the IRS is going to come after your balls for a couple hundred dollars piling into your paypal once in a while.

If you're super worried, pay taxes on it. If you're super against taxes, power to you. Find a way to cash out to direct cash, likely locally. The guy you sell BTC in person to.... well, he's probably not a secret IRS agent. and if he is, be like 'duh dude I'm totally going to pay taxes on this" and then what's he going to do? Maybe audit you? OK, fine, good luck trailing all the cash that came in and was spent straight away on beer.

ENHANCE.

liked my post? LTC to: LYeSMuyDBFufBehK59A9GmMjby6iVw8Kux
Or BTC to: 18YsfMVtqNbrpJuPZaAbifWNYuiUHQZwR8
If there is a wall of text up there, sorry. I can't help it. I'm usually running on about 80oz of coffee a day. If it's complete nonsense, sorry. I haven't had my coffee.
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June 01, 2017, 07:49:21 PM
 #17

I was looking for some answers and wanted to revive this thread. My non-crypto friends were trying to tell me that the government has the ability to trace a bitcoin transaction to the person who sends or receives it. I tried to explain that this is not possible (IF YOU TAKE SPECIFIC STEPS/PRECAUTIONS) but they were causing me to have doubts because they "read an article."

Consider the scenario where I download and install a bitcoin wallet on my PC. I create a new bitcoin wallet address. I call someone at random out of the phone book and threaten them to send me 1BTC or else... and then tell them the wallet address and they actually do it. Assuming the FBI or whoever puts unlimited resources into finding out where the BTC went, can they figure out that it was me? Assume that the wallet address is never published or mentioned again. Also assume that the coins remain in the wallet unspent. I say they can't do it. My friends insist that they can.

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June 01, 2017, 09:29:07 PM
 #18

Consider the scenario where I download and install a bitcoin wallet on my PC. I create a new bitcoin wallet address. I call someone at random out of the phone book and threaten them to send me 1BTC or else... and then tell them the wallet address and they actually do it. Assuming the FBI or whoever puts unlimited resources into finding out where the BTC went, can they figure out that it was me? Assume that the wallet address is never published or mentioned again. Also assume that the coins remain in the wallet unspent. I say they can't do it. My friends insist that they can.

If law enforcement cared enough and wanted to use the resources available, they would contact the phone company to find out where the call came from.  If you bought a "burner phone", then they might be able to trace the phone back to the store that sold it to you.  They would then review video tapes from that store and any security footage of stores nearby, as well as talking to all employees and perhaps other customers that might remember you.

It is difficult to engage in an activity in the "real world" and not leave any trace of the fact that you engaged in that activity.

That being said...  Given the specifications of your post, it would be impossible to use anything from the address or transaction to determine that you were the one that generated that address.

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June 08, 2017, 06:46:58 AM
 #19


even using tor here are three ways to track you


Ok thanks, but I am not talking about 1, 2, or 3, in your scenarios.

I am exclusively talking about tracing out an identity just through the Bitcoin payment itself.

How difficult is it, say, for a regular person or privet investigator (NOT the fbi) to trace out the identity of a person using bitcoin to pay for something?

If you are so curious.

Use tool what they have.

Google Your name. Match database 1
Then google and scan in every bitcoin address-blockchain "scanner" with address which you want to use. Match database 2
Then check if something matching in database 1 and 2

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