"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world." - Jean-Luc Godard
"Any informed borrower is simply less vulnerable to fraud and abuse." Alan Greenspan
I’ve recently had several new subscribers reach out to me with horror stories about how they got scammed when they tried to enter the Bitcoin/cryptocurrency space.
Having successfully navigated the “crypto-sphere” for almost a decade and knowing how potentially treacherous it can be, I felt the need to create a tight piece of content to help you avoid being scammed..
In today’s post I’m going through my bulletproof three pronged strategy that will help you to buy, transfer and store cryptocurrencies without getting scammed.
Quick disclaimer: I’m not a licensed investment advisor, so nothing I say should be taken as financial advice. As always, make sure you do your own research.
All that said, make sure you stick around to the end of the post for a brand new resource that will help you navigate all of this with confidence.
Let’s get into it...
Hey friend, it’s Brad Long here with ZeroDebtCoach where we help 5 and 6 figure corporate burnouts escape their corporate cult by helping them: 1) organize and optimize their financial lives, 2) obliterate debt and 3) accelerate toward financial independence by starting and growing an online business.
A word of warning as we begin. As this kind of content becomes more and more popular, there will likely be imposters in the comments sections below my videos and blog posts pretending to be me.
Just know that I will never:
If you see any of those kinds of messages, it’s a scam and you should run the other way and alert both me and others.
Okay. Today’s video is meant to be a kind of “safe quick start guide” for those of you who are looking at dipping your toe into the Bitcoin/cryptocurrency space.
So the question in most people’s minds who are looking to get into the space is, “is there a safe and proven way to buy, transfer and store Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies so that I don’t get scammed out of my hard earned cash?”
And the answer is yes, absolutely there is. You just have to follow a few simple steps (very carefully) to make sure you don’t get “wrecked” as it’s called in the cryptocurrency space.
And for the rest of this content, I’m going to be using the term Bitcoin, but just know that everything I’m talking about today is 100% applicable to other cryptocurrencies as well.
And before we get into the 3 pronged strategy, it’s critically important to lay some groundwork for you to understand 1) the space, 2) its volatility, 3) security and 4) your own financial posture.
I’m going to call this “Step 0, proceed with extreme caution”.
The Bitcoin space is unlike any other financial instrument you’ve ever dealt with.
There is no centralized authority or customer service that you can call if you lose your password, your private keys or send your Bitcoin to the wrong address. You’re 110% responsible for everything you do using these instruments.
Having been in the crypto space since 2011-2012, I’ve seen price swings of upwards of 30% up or down in one day! So, be prepared, it’s going to be a potentially vomit-inducing experience, and I want you to know that ahead of time.
Never ever give your banking information to a 3rd party that promises to “buy and or hold Bitcoin” on your behalf. This is precisely the way some of my subscribers have lately been scammed. Instead of “trusting” a 3rd party, I’m going to show you how you can buy it and hold it all on your own.
As a financial coach, I would prefer that you are completely debt-free (at least non-mortgage debt) and have 6 months-to-one-year of expenses set aside as an emergency fund BEFORE you consider getting into the space.
Really only then, would I recommend that you “dip your toe” into the space by investing no more than 1% of your net worth into Bitcoin and/or any other cryptocurrency.
There is a steep learning curve involved in being able to understand and navigate this space as it is again, almost nothing like the traditional finance/banking sector.
A simple math example, if your net worth is $10k, I would not recommend that you invest any more than $100 if you’re just getting into it.
Okay, NOW let’s get into the “meaty” 3 steps!
Exchange your “fiat” currency (i.e. US Dollar, Euro or whatever national currency you’re using) for Bitcoin.
To do this, you’ll need to create and account on a cryptocurrency exchange.
So for ease of entry and use, my recommendation is to go ahead and open up a Coinbase account, connect your bank account and purchase Bitcoin or the cryptocurrency of choice.
Once your Coinbase account is set up and your bank account is connected you will be able to trade your national currency for Bitcoin or any of the other cryptos Coinbase is offering.
But, I don’t want you to keep your coins there, which is why...
Never allow your Bitcoin to “stay” or “reside” on an exchange. Exchanges do get hacked and I don’t want you to lose your Bitcoin.
That said, I would transfer whatever you buy to a desktop or smartphone wallet immediately.
I have been using Exodus.com for several years and highly recommend them. I have no affiliate relationship with them.
If it's a larger amount of crypto, I would transfer it to a hardware or what’s also known as a "cold storage" wallet like the Ledger nano. That's what I've been using for over 5 years.
An offline hardware wallet like the Ledger nano is the absolute most safe and secure way to store your cryptos, and I can't recommend enough that you ultimately acquire one of these devices.
Real quick: What’s the most confusing or daunting thing that’s kept you from getting into the cryptocurrency space?
Let me know in the comments below.
Okay, I have a bonus step for you that is REALLY important!
Hackers are EVERYWHERE in the crypto-space! So if you’re going to get into it, you might as well use this as an opportunity to “up” your data and identity security.
My own information was recently hacked in a huge security breach, so I’m speaking from experience that you don’t want to skip or otherwise ignore this bonus step.
Along those lines, here are 3 additional micro-steps I believe you should take if/when you’re considering getting into the crypto space.
This will help you randomize and store highly complex passwords very easily.
The cryptocurrency world is not the space where you EVER want to use that "easy" password you’re probably reusing for at least a dozen accounts.
To ensure your data security it’s best to use a VPN.
A VPN anonymizes your computer’s IP address by using what’s called a “proxy” computer to communicate with the internet and encrypt your data in transit. I use and highly recommend NordVPN.
You’re probably already using two factor authentication via "Authy", "Google Authenticator" or authentication via text messaging for many of your online accounts. I highly encourage that!
But the problem, particularly with "authentication via text" is a fairly recent phenomenon called "SIM swapping".
SIM swapping is where a 3rd party hijacks your mobile phone thereby getting access to all of your sensitive accounts.
To completely avoid this, I recommend utilizing a dedicated 2FA device like this Yubikey for ALL of your financially-related accounts.
This is an important enough and emerging phenomenon that I feel the need to explain a little further.
My own personal and critical data was recently leaked in a very large hack that involved a company I had done business with a few years back. The company, who was supposed to be a bastion of data security, was the victim of a breach of their marketing database AND didn’t do a great job of informing us, it’s customers as to the depth, breadth and severity of the actual breach.
As unacceptable and even kind of outrageous as this is, there’s not a lot that can be done. It’s just the world we live in. Companies are hacked every day and our personal data is being stolen and sold on the “dark web” and being shared openly with people and entities with nefarious intentions.
So, we as consumers must assume that our data is “out there” and must assume the responsibility for hardening the security measures, particularly around our online identity and the security of our accounts.
So, setting up complex, randomized passwords and using 2-factor authentication (2FA) to log into our accounts is of the utmost importance. And once we’ve kind of gotten into the swing of those two things, most of us feel secure. But it may be a false sense of security. Let me explain.
Banks are always on the tail of innovation. Partially because of their “fiduciary responsibility” (just a fancy word for the idea that they’re held to a higher standard of responsibility when it comes to safeguarding people’s assets) and partially because they don’t want to give up any of their control over the way the system works. I won’t go into all of that right now. I only bring it up because the “knock on” effect is that, because of this lag in the banks’ innovation curve, they often put our data at risk.
The best example of this is the 2FA by “text messaging”. This is where you login to an online account, enter your username and then are prompted to enable a 2FA code to be sent to your phone via text message.
Through this latest data breach, I discovered this phenomenon called “SIM Swapping” and it terrified me to my core. As soon as I heard it articulated, it literally made the hair on my arms stand on end.
So what is SIM Swapping? SIM Swapping is a situation where a hacker 1) has your phone number and your cell phone carrier, 2) contacts your cell provider posing as you and requests a new SIM card (i.e. the data chip that basically makes your phone, your phone) so that 3) they can take over your number (and therefore your 2FA) and log into your accounts.
Essentially, the hacker engages in what’s called a “social engineering” assault in an attempt to hijack your cell phone number. And depending on how badly they want your data/assets, they’ll go to great lengths and bring high levels of pressure to bear on your cell phone carrier.
The screaming baby example. The hacker will call your cell phone carrier and do something like cue up a YouTube video of a screaming baby and use intense, emotionally manipulative pressure tactics to appeal to the service rep’s compassion to an apparently distressed “customer”.
Terrifying right? But there’s a solution and it’s actually not that difficult, it just takes a little bit of time and a minor inconvenience on your part.
So, all of that to say, be careful out there and let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.
Thanks for sticking around and here’s my “thank you”.
We’re all about taking immediate action around here, so I wanted to offer you this free “Basics of Bitcoin” resource that will help you blast through this first few steps of this process with ease and confidence.
Also, by popular demand I'll be creating much more content around this in the coming months, so be sure to subscribe and join our coaching community to stay on top of all the latest developments.
And, if you have particular questions or things you’d like for me to talk about, leave me a comment below.
Now, if this decision process is something you struggle with and you constantly feel isolated about, I’ve got some great news for you and it’s free.
Our private Facebook group, ZeroDebtTribe. It’s a group of like minded people that are all somewhere along this P2P/debt-elimination/on their way to FI continuum. So click the image above and apply to join us. :)
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Thanks so much for reading and we’ll see you in the next video post!