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Author Topic: If i send my bitcoins to a wrong address, what happens?  (Read 7575 times)
zpinto
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June 22, 2011, 04:28:51 PM
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Hi!
As the title says, what happens if i get an address wrong? Do the coins get lost?
If that's what happens, why not change the code in Bitcoin, so that if the bitcoin network cant detect that address, returns the bitcoins to you?
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AngelusWebDesign
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June 22, 2011, 04:30:44 PM
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What happens?

A random stranger has a really good day, and you lose your coins.
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June 22, 2011, 04:32:22 PM
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I'm pretty sure they're lost in that case. AFAIK the network doesn't know about addresses that never received anything so there's no way to tell you that the address is invalid. An address could have been created offline and would still be able to get coins. It just has to download the blockchain later to get the transaction information and can then proceed to redeem the coins in new transactions.

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June 22, 2011, 04:32:55 PM
 #4

Hi!
As the title says, what happens if i get an address wrong? Do the coins get lost?
If that's what happens, why not change the code in Bitcoin, so that if the bitcoin network cant detect that address, returns the bitcoins to you?

From the wiki:

"Bitcoin addresses contain a built-in check code, so it's generally not possible to send Bitcoins to a mistyped address. However, if the address is well-formed but no one owns it (or the owner lost their wallet.dat), any coins sent to that address will be lost forever."

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June 22, 2011, 04:35:55 PM
 #5

While what is stated above is true... there are some other points here.

It is hard to have a typo in an address (from what I read somewhere).  If you send to an invalid address, the transaction just fails.

If you mix up your clipboard and send to the wrong, yet valid, address... then you have no recourse as there is no way to get the coins back unless a person holding the private key to that address sends them back to you.

I once overpaid someone using mybitcion... and they were kind enough to give me the extra, so if you can find out who the coins went to, there is a chance.

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June 22, 2011, 04:36:22 PM
 #6

Hi!
As the title says, what happens if i get an address wrong? Do the coins get lost?
If that's what happens, why not change the code in Bitcoin, so that if the bitcoin network cant detect that address, returns the bitcoins to you?

From the wiki:

"Bitcoin addresses contain a built-in check code, so it's generally not possible to send Bitcoins to a mistyped address. However, if the address is well-formed but no one owns it (or the owner lost their wallet.dat), any coins sent to that address will be lost forever."

If that happens on a regularly basis I might switch to "mine" addresses by creating new ones until I get one of those "forever lost" coins.

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zpinto
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June 22, 2011, 04:39:47 PM
 #7

In a couple of years, with so many coins lost this way, not sure many will be left, since bitcoins are limited to 21 million and losing coins by sending them to wrong address's will keep on happening. Anyone can make a simple mistake copying the address, even though it's easy.
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June 22, 2011, 04:42:28 PM
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In a couple of years, with so many coins lost this way, not sure many will be left, since bitcoins are limited to 21 million and losing coins by sending them to wrong address's will keep on happening. Anyone can make a simple mistake copying the address, even though it's easy.

Yes, it's like with cash and washing machines. So much gets destroyed, they even need to print new notes all the time!

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elggawf
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June 22, 2011, 04:42:54 PM
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If that happens on a regularly basis I might switch to "mine" addresses by creating new ones until I get one of those "forever lost" coins.

I've thought about that - I believe generating batches of keys and scanning the blockchain for keys with a balance is going to be prohibitively expensive. As in, not entirely unlike the lottery of running a solo cpu miner, but with vastly more variance in the payoff.

^_^
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June 22, 2011, 04:45:00 PM
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If that happens on a regularly basis I might switch to "mine" addresses by creating new ones until I get one of those "forever lost" coins.

I've thought about that - I believe generating batches of keys and scanning the blockchain for keys with a balance is going to be prohibitively expensive. As in, not entirely unlike the lottery of running a solo cpu miner, but with vastly more variance in the payoff.
with the vast keyspace, you will make MUCH more money by mining.

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

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June 22, 2011, 04:47:31 PM
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If that happens on a regularly basis I might switch to "mine" addresses by creating new ones until I get one of those "forever lost" coins.
I don't think you fully appreciate how vast the keyspace is. Mining is like finding a needle in a haystack. Finding an address is like finding a particle in one of many universes, where there's as many universes as there are particles in each universe.

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InstaGx
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June 22, 2011, 04:52:40 PM
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If that happens on a regularly basis I might switch to "mine" addresses by creating new ones until I get one of those "forever lost" coins.
I don't think you fully appreciate how vast the keyspace is. Mining is like finding a needle in a haystack. Finding an address is like finding a particle in one of many universes, where there's as many universes as there are particles in each universe.

Yeah you might want to take that comment with a grain of salt. Your particle analogy seems a bit exaggerated though.

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dodgrr
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June 22, 2011, 04:59:41 PM
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ok, so if I pick some random guy on the street and put my wallet in his pocket when he's not looking, what are the chances that he's gonna find me after the fact and return it? Not great, but it's possible Wink

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June 22, 2011, 05:02:46 PM
 #14

Yeah you might want to take that comment with a grain of salt. Your particle analogy seems a bit exaggerated though.
There are somewhere between 10^72 an 10^87 particles in the universe. The keyspace is 2^160, or around 10^48. So yeah, it is exaggerated.

I am an employee of Ripple.
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Astro
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June 22, 2011, 06:18:16 PM
 #15

Umm yeah..

http://blockexplorer.com/address/1BitcoinEaterAddressDontSendf59kuE
eramus
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June 22, 2011, 06:20:04 PM
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In a couple of years, with so many coins lost this way, not sure many will be left, since bitcoins are limited to 21 million and losing coins by sending them to wrong address's will keep on happening. Anyone can make a simple mistake copying the address, even though it's easy.

Yes, it's like with cash and washing machines. So much gets destroyed, they even need to print new notes all the time!
that doesnt have much bearing on bitcoins. notes are reprinted because old ones wear out or a design needs to be updated. that doesnt matter for bitcoins.

21million will be plenty - even with lost coins. if and when bitcoin actually takes off, 1btc will be a pretty large amount. i wouldnt be surprised if day to day transactions would be <1 btc... loaf of bread: .00001 btc, pack of smokes: .0002 btc, etc. there is plenty of room to divide a single bitcoin that lost bitcoins wont really matter.
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June 22, 2011, 06:22:18 PM
 #17

What happens if I will send to an invalid address, which passes the built-in check??

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http://i.imgur.com/4OT19.png    <- Bitcoin Tool recognizes bitcoin addresses on websites, and links them to blockexplorer.
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June 22, 2011, 06:25:11 PM
 #18

What happens if I will send to an invalid address, which passes the built-in check??

They are lost. Look at the Address Astro posted above. The right to transfer (= the ownership) of a coin is granted by the possession of the private key of the address where the coin was last transferred to.

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June 22, 2011, 06:45:09 PM
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As far as I know they get lost Sad

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January 21, 2014, 02:01:28 PM
 #20

Finally they let me post on here...  I learned the hard way and believe this post should be resurrected for newbs to the currency.  Don't let the "coin" part of bitcoin fool you into thinking it's not worth much.  On the other hand, realize that it is "coin".  Just like giving a rare coin to a homeless guy on the street, you MAY never see it again if you make a mistake...
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