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I lost a cd key for a very old game and need to replace it with a new one. I can't find anymore physical copies to buy, but I found cd keys for them are offered on sites like Ebay which could replace my own. I would buy and they would email me the cd key via ebay or paypal or a personal email.

My concern is the sketchiness of this practice and distancing myself from the unlikely but possible blow-back. To narrow the discussion let's assume the buyer may have a hidden agenda, but that they are still providing the real code. I would also request the ethics of the situation not be discussed as these are covered in many similar discussion already.

  1. How can I attain this keycode as anonymously as possible? Having my name and banking associated with the transaction is potentially unfavorable.

  2. How can I attain this keycode without fear that my credit card information might be recharged or used in some sketchy business?

  3. if the keycode is being emailed to me what do I need to do to safely view the code? I mean there's the obvious of not clicking third party links but I hear sometimes simply opening an email, even without loading images, is enough to hurt you?

What would be best practice to addressing these 3 concerns? I was thinking of maybe making a paypal account then paying with that then closing the paypal account afterwards so it couldn't be charged by a seller ever again. Would my bank and credit card only know that paypal was charging them for an obscure reason? Thus keeping the full details separate? Or is it different if I transfer the exact amount to paypal as a simple deposit, then do the transaction with just the deposited amount so its just paypal who knows. Or is it irrelevant to do any of this and I might as well just use my actual credit card directly via ebay? And in terms of opening and viewing that code safely how would I do it...and which email is best to use.

And since the seller is for sure going to give the code when paid, can I pay them in a more discreet way by refusing certain buyer protections? FOr example giving a clerk 5$ to come to your house and deliver milk tomorrow, versus signing a full contract with him to come to your house and deliver milk tomorrow for 5$...a contract in that case is less anonymous.

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How can I attain this keycode as anonymously as possible? Having my name and banking associated with the transaction is potentially unfavorable.

Why? I wouldn't worry. First, it's fairly rare that vendors go after individual end users. Second, it's an old game, probably not sold by the original vendor any more.

How can I attain this keycode without fear that my credit card information might be recharged or used in some sketchy business?

Pay via PayPal. That means the seller doesn't get your credit card information, and cannot charge you anything. You send a payment, they don't charge you.

A recurring payment (or charge-like system) is possible with PayPal. They will tell you rather clearly that you're setting up recurring payment. This does not happen when you pay for something you bought on eBay. There's zero reason to create a new account for this.

if the keycode is being emailed to me what do I need to do to safely view the code? I mean there's the obvious of not clicking third party links but I hear sometimes simply opening an email, even without loading images, is enough to hurt you?

Read the e-mail.

There's security problem in e-mail clients now and then, but as a general rule they are secure enough that we use them to read information from random strangers. If you're paranoid, set up your e-mail client to only show plain text, and not attempt to render HTML.

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I'm not going into the, as you call it, sketchiness of the practice. You wish to be anonymous for a specific transaction, and from the vendor (and not necessarily from your own ISP or from a mail provider).

There are a number of options to enhance your privacy and security, while still enabling you to do business. The following is a non-complete overview of measures that you may take. It all depends on your risk assessment of the vendor and the effort you are willing to put in it.

Making anonymous payments is possible using, for example, pre-paid credit cards. Buy one with cash. Your vendor may not accept credit cards, but he may accept bitcoins. Buy bitcoins with the prepaid-card. That should make your payment sufficiently anonymous. Paypal is an option which you should examine as well.

If you contact the vendor, use a disposable e-mail address. I heard that a lot of gmail/hotmail/... addresses are owned by 'madona' living in 'beverly hills 90210'. Do not use that e-mail address for anything else. If your machine is patched upto the latest level, your e-mail client should be safe enough. But otherwise, use gmail's/hotmail's/... web interface to access the mail.

If you contact the vendor via his website, use a anonymizing proxy (there is a set of free-ones with limited bandwidth). Use a different proxy every time. Use "privacy browsing" or "incognito tabs" or ....

If you want to be even more sure, launch a virtual machine specific for this transaction. You will be sure that you do not leak any cookies, and even if your machine is compromised, you will destroy it anyway. Take some effort to prevent infecting other machines on your network.

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