Early on when I committed to making all of my purchases anonymously, one of the big hurdles I had to figure out was how to order from Amazon. Privacy seekers routinely face this same challenge because so much of the shopping people do nowadays is through Amazon. One day I hope to move away from using Amazon entirely, but until that day comes I will need to utilize an account, make payments, and receive shipments as anonymously as possible and by sharing as few details with Amazon as possible.
The question always comes up during live training events or on the privacy forum, “what is the best way to create an anonymous Amazon account?” In the past I experimented with various methods to accomplish this task. I had accounts shut down or locked up, and experienced frustration at times.
Common factors that lead to frustration were the combination of a masked credit or debit cards, VPN usage and unconfirmed identities all while setting up brand new accounts. There is no doubt major online retailers experience a lot of fraud. They most certainly employ policies and advanced security measures to protect themselves and legitimate customers from becoming victims. Amazon wants to know everything there is to know about its customers, period. They are a convenient company to purchase what we need from but their business model also focuses on data collection and surveillance. Those two agendas don’t mesh well with our pursuit of privacy and identity management.
I recently had a positive experience with setting up an anonymous Amazon account in an alias name which shipped to either my true address or an Amazon locker. I have used various methods to do this in the past and now want to share the most recent success which takes into account lessons learned from others with this same goal in mind.
Create a free ProtonMail account, separate from any other ProtonMail account you may already be using. The username should appear to be similar to the alias name you will be using for your new Amazon account.
Using a VPN, go to the Amazon Home Page and navigated to the “start here” link.
Go to “Create Account”, enter your alias name, the associated email address you created that matches that name, and choose a strong password for the account.
Use a Privacy.com card to fund the account on the “Add A New Payment Method” page.
On the “Add An Address” page, use the same alias name, a true address and a MySudo phone number designated for online shopping purposes.
Additionally, I thought about the problems I and other privacy seekers have experienced when setting up anonymous accounts and what I needed to do to remedy them. These are the details I considered before I began the account setup process.
Websites can track you using your IP address, cookies and super-cookies, user agents and browser fingerprinting. They can see your IP address, system specs and settings, operating system and browser type. I kept the following things in mind from the retailer’s point of view when executing the account’s initial setup and first use, knowing that fraud detection and user identification are both important factors for the merchant.
I made sure the VPN server location and the computer’s time zone setting matched the time zone of the physical address I was providing to create the account. I did this so if these details were scrutinized, they would match and it would not seem suspicious, ie: NOT a Texas physical address, a NYC IP address and a computer with the internal clock set to the Pacific Time Zone.
I used a common name that did not read as suspicious or unusual.
I initially funded the account with a Privacy.com card and NOT a gift card. There is a lot of gift card fraud that occurs, especially online. Having a brand new account which is immediately funded by gifts cards may raise red flags.
I made two (2) small orders after the account’s initial setup. Both orders contained items that are not considered ‘high risk’ (in the event the type of items purchase was used as an evaluating factor for fraud). I considered that the orders were smaller dollar amounts, buying non-electronics and not using gift cards for funding.
Be sure to take steps to make your new Amazon account more secure and private by adjusting settings on your profile. A great reference guide for this is available at both of these links:
I know some of these things may seem small and ‘nit picky’ but I am sure many of us who have been in or around the privacy game for any length of time have either made and/or learned from others mistakes. As companies continue to track us and collect our data in ways we do not agree with, we have to continue to adjust our strategies to compensate. Often, the things that appear to be minor hassles, like when a new account gets locked up, are actually valuable learning experiences. I hope the steps above will help save you some time when setting up your new account in a more anonymous fashion. ** Thank you to “redacted” for helping me test, verify, and document the steps discussed in this article so that others can have the same success.