What Is a Credit Privacy Number (CPN)?
Have you been worried about ID theft, someone stealing your Social Security number, or fraud? Are you looking for an easy fix for bad credit? During your research, you might have heard of a CPN, or credit privacy number.
What’s a Credit Privacy Number?
A credit privacy number, or CPN is an ID number that many say can be used instead of using your Social Security number…in some cases.
People sell these numbers, and they claim that even people with bad credit can use these instead of their Social Security numbers to get loans, credit cards, and other financial products that they otherwise wouldn’t qualify for. Those who sell CPNs also tell consumers that when they start using their CPN, that they can improve their credit. Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it is, but more about that, later.
The FTC, Federal Trade Commission, has said that telling people using these numbers to fix their credit score is a downright scam. If you do use one, you could become involved on the wrong side of identity theft, or you could even end up in prison if you, by chance, mix up your CPN with your Social Security number on an official document.
There are a lot of red flags associated with this, of course. First, when you try to get a CPN, you might be asked to do things like change your phone number, get a driver’s license that has a different address, or even start using a new email address. Of course, there is also a fee to get the numbers. You might think people would shy away from these, but no…they still get them.
Why Do CPNs Even Exist?
CPNs are very real, and they do have a good use in certain situations. In 1974, the U.S. Privacy Act was passed. It allowed people to withhold revealing their SSN when not legally required. So, for instance, you are not legally required to give your Social Security number on a credit application, but good luck getting credit without one. You technically could use a CPN. However, the government does not recognize, nor legitimize them.
The Big Issue with CPNs
There are a few issues with CPNs in addition to the ones above. First, they are not going to help you get better credit. So, don’t fall for that. These numbers also could get you in trouble with the law. How? Because many of the numbers that these scammers are selling may, and in some cases are, actually real Social Security numbers that have been stolen. In fact, many of the CPNs out there are the Social Security numbers of children, because scammers know it could be many years before the scam is figured out. Also, keep in mind that if you use a stolen Social Security number to apply for credit, even if you don’t know it, you could be committing identity theft.
Avoiding CPN Scams
If you are facing financial troubles, it’s very tempting to look for an easy and quick solution, and this seems like a great one. However, as you now know, it’s not. So, here’s some information about avoiding these scams:
- Use caution when dealing with a company that offers a “new credit identity.” That just doesn’t exist.
- Do not believe it when a company says that you can get an Employer Identification Number, EIN, and use that instead of a Social Security Number. Though EINs exist, you can’t use one as a SSN.
- If thinking about credit repair, understand your rights. The Credit Repair Organization Act makes it illegal for a credit repair company to charge you before they have done their job.
What You Can Do Instead
Unfortunately, there is not a legal way to get a blank slate for your credit. However, most of the information on your credit history is not permanent, and eventually, it will drop off. The more time that goes by, and the more positive information that is added, the better it is for you.
If you are in debt, you might want to consider a debt settlement, debt management, or even bankruptcy. If you want to try rebuilding, make sure you pay your loans and credit card bills on time each month. You should also try to get the balances down below 30 percent of your limit, and if you can get it even lower, that’s the best.