How to Safely Buy a Used Ledger Nano S

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Buying a Ledger or similar hardware wallet is an excellent way to store your cryptocurrencies safely and conveniently. However, at just under £90 (or $100) the price tag can put off some cryptocurrency holders, especially small-scale investors. Also, from time-to-time the French company have run low on stock, causing a huge backlog of orders. In these cases we receive a lot of questions about whether it’s okay to buy a used (second hand) device from sites like Gumtree (similar to Craigslist) or eBay.

Buying a Used Ledger

It’s not hard to find a used Ledger Nano S: a quick search on Gumtree or eBay (and Craigslists and Kijiji) brings up a number of listings. Many claim to be unused, and prices range from £50-£80.

Gumtree and eBay Ledger listings
Gumtree (left) and eBay (right) Ledger Nano S listings

A key question that should be on your mind is the integrity of the device. Beyond the usual due diligence you should conduct on a seller’s account (ratings, reviews, history, etc.), there are a number of precautions you must take after receiving your used Ledger…

When your used Ledger arrives

1. You may need to reset it

When you first start up your device, the Welcome screen should be displayed. If it isn’t, you must reset the device…

Should I reset my Ledger

When your used Ledger arrives and you power it on, there should be no request for a PIN nor should the package contain information about the seed words, as the device should have been reset by the previous owner. If the device requests a PIN, the first thing you need to do is reset it. This is absolutely essential, for if it has already been initialized the previous owner has viewed, and presumably saved, the seed words.

This is the most common way that people are defrauded when buying a second-hand Ledger, to the extent that the company has issued a warning.

Here’s how you should properly reset a pre-initialized Ledger if you receive one: enter a random PIN three (3) times to reset the device.

2. Check for Tampering

Regardless of whether the device came initialized or not, it is important that you check the hardware and software integrity of the Ledger, for it could have been tampered with.

Software: Check the software by connecting your Ledger device to any of Ledger’s official applications. Each Ledger wallet contains a secret key input by Ledger at the time of manufacture, and will only be recognised by the official applications when this secret key is cross-referenced with Ledger’s servers.

Hardware: If you’re still concerned about a device you have bought you can perform a hardware integrity check yourself, however we do not recommend this for those users inexperienced with handling small electronic devices. You should refer to this official guidance on opening and visually appraising a Ledger device.

3. Keep your Ledger up-to-date

This isn’t a tip specific to used Ledgers, but it’s always important to keep your device updated to receive security and bug patches.

If your device isn’t running on the latest firmware when you receive it, you should immediately update the device, for this is another way to ensure it has not been tampered with.

Following the above steps are necessary precautions when buying any used hardware wallet. If you’re looking to save the hassle, it’s always best to buy hardware wallets directly from their manufacturer…
Ledger Nano S - The secure hardware wallet