Short Answer: There are several ways to send or receive money anonymously; you can send cash in the mail, purchase prepaid gift cards, or transfer digital currency. As the sender, you can also use a counter check from your bank. See below for more information on how to send and receive money anonymously — plus the risks associated with each method.
How to Send/Receive Money Anonymously
It is important to protect your personally identifiable information (PII) to prevent fraud and identity theft. To protect your PII, you may want to send or receive money anonymously when exchanging monetary gifts, giving a charity, or making a sale or purchase. Below, we have compiled details on several ways to send and receive money anonymously.
Cash can be sent through the mail anonymously; however, note that with this payment method, you risk the money being lost or stolen. As either the sender or the receiver, you have no recourse if the cash is lost. You may also ask someone trustworthy that you know to pick up or deliver the cash for you by hand.
If you do decide to send cash in the mail, you may want to wrap the cash in several layers of notebook paper to be sure it can’t be seen through the envelope, even when held up to the light. For complete anonymity, do not put your return address on the envelope, and if you do not want the envelope marked with your city, you can visit a neighboring post office for a different postmark.
Prepaid Gift Cards
Prepaid Mastercard and Visa gift cards are a safer way than cash to send or receive money anonymously. Although they cannot be redeemed for cash, the recipient can use a prepaid gift card anywhere that takes Mastercard or Visa.
Bitcoin, StealthPay, and other digital currency can facilitate anonymous transactions. These transactions don’t require your name, an account number, a PIN, or a physical card or check. You will need technical knowledge of digital currency to choose the right cryptocurrency for your needs, and to ensure digital security, it’s best to use a virtual private network (VPN).
Note that digital currency is risky in regards to value fluctuations, and it can be difficult to convert back into cash. The sender may also incur fees when sending money, depending on which wallet they use.
If you have a bank account, you may call your bank and ask if it offers counter checks. A counter check is not entirely anonymous; it includes your account and routing number. However, it is not printed with your name or other contact information. With only your routing number and account number on the check, the bank will not disclose your name to the recipient; see our report for information on what someone can do with your checking account number.
Once you receive your counter check from the teller, it can be used as any other normal check, and your name will remain anonymous to the receiver. Our previous research features the details on how to get a counter check.
Note that you cannot receive a counter check anonymously, as the sender will need to fill it out to you.
Payment Methods to Avoid
We contacted some of the major banks, PayPal, and money transfer companies to find out if they recommend making anonymous payments. We were told that due to fraud protections, the following payment methods should not be used for making anonymous payments:
- Cashier’s checks: The purchaser is shown as the remitter on the face of a cashier’s check to avoid fraud. We contacted Bank of America, Chase, Fifth Third Bank, and PNC, which all require remittal disclosure.
- Money orders: Money orders must be filled out completely, which includes purchaser and recipient information. If you fill a money order out incorrectly, the recipient will likely be unable to cash it.
- PayPal: While some users attempt to send money anonymously by creating a second PayPal account under a different name, PayPal does not allow anonymous activity and asks that users only create accounts using their real names.
- Xoom: Xoom, a division of PayPal, can transfer funds into a bank account if you have the account number; however, it does not allow anonymous transactions.
- Western Union money transfers: Western Union does not allow anonymous activity, but customers can transfer funds directly into a bank account with the account number.