No, this isn’t a story about people buying bitcoins before the price collapses or even about being scammed in a get-rich-quick scheme involving bitcoin. It’s about people who opened accounts in bitcoin sometime in the past. Some did it because a customer insisted on paying in bitcoin. Others wanted to try out the new payment method when it was now. The problem is that now that bitcoin is worth a lot of U.S. dollars, they can’t remember the passwords to their bitcoin accounts. They have a lot of money locked away they can’t access. You can find stories here and here.
The Trezor website explained that these 24 words were my recovery words and could be used to generate the master private key to my bitcoin. If I lost my Trezor or it stopped working, I could recover my bitcoin by entering those 24 words into a new Trezor or any one of the many other hardware and online wallets that use the same standard key-generation algorithm. It was important for me to keep the paper hidden and safe, because anyone could use it to steal my 7.4 bitcoins. I transferred my currency from my web-based wallet to my Trezor, tossing both the Trezor and the orange piece of paper into a desk drawer in my home office. My plan was to buy a length of flat aluminum stock and letterpunch the 24 words onto it, then store it somewhere safe. I was going to do it right after the holidays.