What Is a Credit Privacy Number (CPN)?
A credit privacy number, also known as a credit profile number or CPN, is a nine-digit ID number that looks like a Social Security number.
Fraudulent credit repair companies attempt to sell CPNs to consumers, claiming 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. They may promise an easy fix to bad credit, but they're really just a scam. They won't help you improve your credit, and they could even get you in trouble with the law.
If you attempt to use a CPN in place of your Social Security number to apply for credit, you're committing a federal crime.
The Big Issue with CPNs
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns 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 use the CPN instead of your Social Security number on an official document.
It's illegal to misrepresent your Social Security number. But beyond that, many of the CPN numbers that scammers are selling are 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.
If you use a stolen Social Security number to apply for credit, even if you don’t know it, you're committing identity theft.
Avoiding CPN Scams
Being aware of the facts and the red flags associated with CPN scams will help you avoid them.
First, use caution when dealing with a company that offers a “new credit identity.” That just doesn’t exist. Also don't believe 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. In addition, you should never pay an upfront free to get a CPN or EIN number.
Also be wary of "credit repair" companies that ask you 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.
If thinking about credit repair, understand your rights. The Credit Repair Organizations 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. You can also dispute inaccurate information on your report.
If you are in debt, you might want to consider 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% of your limit or lower.