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What happens to old bitcoin addresses? I've read that they never get destroyed, but do they get reassigned?

The story is I sent some bitcoin to an exchange using an address I've used with them before, but then found out that they had just retired/stopped using that address. I saw the transaction coming through though. Where did the bitcoin go?? Is there an official network that manages bitcoin addresses? Please help, it is a rather large sum.

Address in question: 12aAEnfc6192cm4KLfV5eY13jYRqy684Ym transaction ID: 0db1e2f9f4233592b5f6ac5c881727e3c5694cfbd21af1744bfb11d069a1ae2d

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    If the exchange controlled that address before, they almost certainly still control it, as it is actively used. They just don't want to credit the money to your account. Your chances lies in customer's support, and if it doesn't fix it, a lawyer.
    – lvella
    Feb 3 at 14:43
  • This is the equivalent of "I deposited a money order to myself at my bank. My bank now says it cashed the money order, but they can't find where the money went? WTH? No way, I'd call/email customer support until they credit you. Feb 4 at 8:42
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What happens to old bitcoin addresses? I've read that they never get destroyed, but do they get reassigned?

Bitcoin addresses are not reused or reassigned to anybody under any circumstances.

The story is I sent some bitcoin to an exchange using an address I've used with them before, but then found out that they had just retired/stopped using that address.

This is almost certainly a scam. There is no reason to ever "stop using" an address, especially as the one you're referencing contains over half a million dollars of value. If they had lost access to their own funds that's not really your responsibility, but that seems like a highly unlikely story.

Is there an official network that manages bitcoin addresses?

No.

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    "There is no reason to ever 'stop using' an address" -> There are plenty of reasons to stop using an address. First and foremost, reusing an address destroys your privacy. Bitcoin addresses are intended to be single-use only. And why not since it's free to make essentialy an unlimited amount of them for everyone.
    – blues
    Feb 3 at 7:07
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Bitcoin addresses are essentially just large random numbers. So there's nothing to destroy or reassign - it's just a number.

When you "create" a new address, what you're really doing is just picking two random numbers (that are cryptographically linked to each other) called a "private key" and a "public key". The public key is like a house address or email address - other people use it to send you money. The private key is like a house key or email password - you use it to send your money from your wallet to other people's "addresses" (public keys).

The chance of you generating someone else's address is basically zero because of how large the numbers are.

When an exchange generates addresses for its customers, they internally manage how they're allocated. A responsible exchange would never use one person's address for another person and old addresses should still work.

The reason exchanges generate new addresses is to protect your privacy. Since all crypto transactions are public, sending money to different addresses (generated by the exchange) helps limit the amount of information other people can deduce about your finances.

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Looking at the address you provided in a block explorer(OXT Explorer)

12aAEnfc6192cm4KLfV5eY13jYRqy684Ym

it seems your exchange has been reusing that address quite a bit since December to now and has not really cut down on using it. I do not think they have retired the address and it is definitely still under their control.

Is there an official network that manages bitcoin addresses?

No, each individual generates their own addresses and it is entirely their own decision on how to use them. Most people simply use an address once and then put them aside once they are done with them. The address is still perfectly valid, it is just not good for privacy to reuse addresses. Large institutions on the other hand might find it more convenient to reuse since privacy is not their biggest concern.

Depending on how HUOBI uses their addresses, they could have jumbled up your funds with other peoples' funds if they simply re-assign addresses on an as needed basis. It is generally good practice for exchanges to generate separate addresses for each user to avoid an accounting mess like this but not all exchanges do this.

They definitely still have your funds somewhere in their systems and might just be too lazy about getting it back for you. Go to their website and open up a support ticket or something. Keep pestering them to find your funds or they'll just BS you about "we retired the address" and hope you let them keep the funds.

The beauty is you can track everything on the blockchain, you have proof you sent it to an address they control (they still control) and you can prove the transaction went through. If they make it difficult, you may have to open up a legal case against them with a regulatory body but they definitely have your funds. It makes no sense for them to toss a seed after just 2 months of use especially since they can generate infinite addresses from just that seed.

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  • In order to ensure the absolute security of the account, the exchange will change the account for a while, and cancel the number and abolish the original btc address Feb 2 at 19:24
  • edit: They've stopped using that HUOBI wallet address since 01/30 they said. The subsequent transaction in Feb 2 is mine, which was withdrawn by someone in after 2 hours. bitinfocharts.com/bitcoin/address/… As to why they change: In order to ensure the absolute security of the account, the exchange will periodically change the account address, and cancel and abolish the original BTC address. Is this a valid reason? Feb 2 at 19:37
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    @cannabiccino no, you can't cancel and abolish a BTC address
    – Nikolai
    Feb 2 at 20:34
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    @cannabiccino Someone is lying to you. Whether it's laziness or a scam, I cannot say, but what they are telling you is objectively wrong, and an exchange should know these things.
    – Abion47
    Feb 2 at 21:01
  • @cannabiccino The exchange even moved the funds, they are really messing with you. Only their key can control that address. That's why I only buy p2p from trusted people.
    – SparK
    Feb 3 at 6:07

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