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How to Recover Crypto Sent to Wrong Address?

Last Updated on February 26, 2024

James Headshot
Written by
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Disclaimer: This is not a validation of cryptocurrency or any particular provider, service, or product. It should not be taken as advice to engage in trading or use any services. Please check our terms and conditions.

Quick Answer:

Crypto transactions occur on blockchain networks and require careful input of private keys and public addresses, often resulting in mix-ups, especially when similar blockchain networks like Ethereum, Polygon, and Binance Smart Chain are involved. Recovering cryptos sent to the wrong address can be possible, depending on the situation, such as using a wallet that supports both networks or contacting wallet developers or exchange support teams.

Address mix-ups are common with tokens compatible with similar address-format networks, leading to assets being sent on the wrong blockchain. For wrong network errors, users may import their private key into a compatible wallet, while wrong address errors to custodian wallets or exchanges require contacting customer support for potential recovery.

Preventing these mistakes involves verifying token contract addresses on Coinmarketcap, ensuring wallet compatibility with the token’s blockchain, and double-checking all transaction details. Despite the stress of sending crypto to the wrong address, there are ways to reclaim assets, and using a reliable multi-currency wallet can facilitate the process.

Cryptocurrencies operate on the principle of decentralization, where transactions are irreversible once confirmed on the blockchain.

This feature enhances security and integrity but also means that if you send crypto to an incorrect address, it cannot be reversed in the same way as traditional bank transactions. Recovery options are limited and depend significantly on the nature of the error and the type of wallet involved.

Common Scenarios and Recovery Steps

1. Sending to an Address Within the Same Exchange

If you accidentally send cryptocurrency to another address within the same exchange, recovery is more feasible. Many exchanges have mechanisms to identify and rectify such mistakes, provided you can prove ownership of both the sending and receiving accounts.

Action Steps:

  • Contact the exchange’s customer support immediately.
  • Provide transaction details, including transaction ID (TXID), sending/receiving addresses, and the amount sent.
  • Follow their instructions carefully, which may involve verifying your identity.

2. Sending to a Wrong Address of the Same Cryptocurrency

Sending to a wrong but valid address of the same cryptocurrency (e.g., sending Bitcoin to another Bitcoin address) outside your control is more challenging. If you don’t know the owner of the receiving address, the chances of recovery are slim.

Action Steps:

  • Try to identify the owner of the address (if it belongs to an exchange or a known wallet, for instance).
  • If identified, reach out and explain the situation. They may be willing to return the funds if they can access them.

3. Sending to an Address of a Different Cryptocurrency

Sending crypto to an address of a different cryptocurrency (e.g., sending Bitcoin to an Ethereum address) can sometimes be recovered, especially if both currencies are supported by the same wallet or exchange.

Action Steps:

  • Contact the wallet or exchange support team providing details of the transaction.
  • Some platforms can recover the funds if they control the private keys of the address the funds were sent to.

Preventive Measures

The best approach to dealing with sending crypto to the wrong address is prevention. Here are some tips to avoid such situations:

  • Double-check addresses: Always verify the recipient’s address before sending crypto. Check it character by character.
  • Use QR codes: If possible, use QR codes to enter addresses automatically, reducing the risk of manual errors.
  • Test transactions: For large amounts, first send a small amount as a test transaction to confirm that the address is correct.
  • Bookmark addresses: For frequent transactions, bookmark or use the address book feature in your wallet to save correct addresses.

Common Address Mix-Ups: Ethereum, Polygon and Binance Smart Chain

A great thing about the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain is that you can’t really make a mistake and send your coins to another blockchain network with identical addresses because BTC addresses have their own unique form. It was possible to accidentally send your BTC to a Bitcoin Cash (BCH) address back in 2017 when BCH was launched, but the BCH team quickly solved the problem.

However, the situation is much more complicated when it comes to Ethereum (ETH), Polygon (MATIC), Binance Smart Chain (BSC) and Ethereum Classic (ETC). This is because all four of these blockchains use similar address formats, with destination addresses starting with 0x. That’s why it’s quite common for both beginner and advanced crypto holders to send their tokens to the wrong address.

What complicates things even further is that these are massive networks that enable developers to easily launch ERC20 and BEP20 tokens. Any developer can create their own crypto token and launch it on the market through decentralized exchange platforms.

The address mix-up problem arises when a user wishes to send some tokens compatible with one of these networks to their wallet address. For example, it’s quite common that a trader purchases some type of BEP20 token, such as Binance Coin (BNB), through their Binance account, and they want to send it to their Trust Wallet.

However, when generating the receiving Binance chain wallet address in their Trust Wallet, the user forgets to select BSC as the network type, leaving the network set to Ether or Polygon. This way, the user accidentally sends their BEP20 assets to the wrong network.

Crypto transactions

Most Common Wrong Address Scenarios

Sent Crypto On Wrong Network

One of the most common mistakes is when a user accidentally sends their tokens to a crypto wallet that doesn’t support the blockchain on which the sent tokens are based. This can easily happen if you use an Ethereum-based wallet like MetaMask, and you buy BEP20 tokens for the first time.

Since MetaMask supports thousands of ERC20 tokens, users usually take it for granted that their MetaMask wallet is good for any crypto, and they just send their newly bought tokens to the wallet without giving it any additional thought.

After sending your BEP20 tokens to your MetaMask, you’ll probably realize the mistake when you don’t see your tokens arriving in your Ethereum address. The first thing you should do is take your transaction ID and use a blockchain explorer to make sure that the funds went through the blockchain, because they might not have reached your ETH address yet due to high network traffic. 

worried woman on phone

For the Ethereum network, use Etherscan.io; for BSC, use Bscscan.com. For Polygon, Polygonscan.com and, in the case of ETC, use Etcblockexplorer.com.

Once you’ve verified that the transaction has gone through to the destination address on the network, you need to import your private key into a crypto wallet that supports both the adequate network and your private key’s original network, such as Trust Wallet. Once you’ve imported your MetaMask wallet into Trust Wallet, you will gain access to your BEP20 funds because Trust Wallet supports the BSC blockchain. 

Just don’t forget to add the BEP20 token in question to the Trust Wallet by going to the Add Custom Token section, pasting the token smart contract, and selecting Smart Chain as the token network. Now you’ll have a new wallet for that specific BEP20 token, the balance will then be visible, and your funds are saved.

Destination Wallet Supports Various Networks

In case you already have a Trust Wallet, and you’ve sent Polygon-based tokens from an exchange platform or another wallet to your Trust Wallet account without enabling Polygon, then the recovery process is even easier

Find the exact contract address of the Polygon token you’ve sent. The safest way to avoid any scams is to search Coinmarketcap for the token address. Once you’ve found the token’s contract address, go to your Trust Wallet and enter the search bar. Select the Add Custom Token option and paste the contract address. Don’t forget to choose the Polygon blockchain in the Network section.

Now that you’ve enabled your Polygon token in Trust Wallet, the wallet will show the balance of that specific token. It’s that simple with a multi-chain wallet like Trust Wallet.

Mistakes To Avoid

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I sent the wrong cryptocurrency to a wallet?

Wrong crypto will be considered lost forever, and there are no refunds for this kind of mistake. If you want to get back your money, then contact the support team. So make sure you double-check everything, like the deposit address and network before sending any coin!

How to recover ERC20 tokens sent to the wrong address?

If you send ERC20 tokens to a wrong address, then these tokens cannot be recovered unless they were transferred to another account. The best way to recover lost tokens is to contact support@ethereum.org.

How to recover Ethereum sent to wrong address?

If you send ether to the wrong address, then you need to contact the owner of the wallet where the ether was originally deposited. The owner of the wallet has control over the balance of the account and they can reverse the transaction. However, if you already spent the funds, then you cannot return them back.

A Few Ending Words…

The decentralized and irreversible nature of cryptocurrency transactions means that recovering funds sent to a wrong address is challenging and often impossible.

While certain scenarios offer a glimmer of hope for recovery, the emphasis should be on preventive measures to avoid such mistakes. Always proceed with caution, double-check details, and utilize the security features of your wallet or exchange.

In the unfortunate event of an error, act swiftly to contact any involved parties for possible recovery, but prepare for the reality that the funds may not be retrievable..

About The Author

James Headshot
Written by

Crypto Technical Writer

James Page, previously the lead writer at Crypto Head and a registered psychologist, brings a unique perspective to the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

His extensive experience in the industry and ability to present complex concepts in an understandable manner make his articles a valuable resource for readers seeking to navigate the ever-evolving crypto landscape.

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