What Is a Credit Privacy Number (CPN)?


Credit privacy numbers (CPNs) are promoted by some credit repair companies as an effective way of eradicating your bad credit history. Rather than using your Social Security number on a credit or loan application, you can supposedly use a CPN number to get approved.

But, is that really the case? Let’s take a look.

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What is a credit privacy number (CPN)?

A credit privacy number (CPN), sometimes called a credit protection number, or credit profile number, is a nine-digit number that resembles a Social Security number (SSN). Marketed as a way to protect one’s SSN and start fresh with a new credit profile, CPNs are sometimes promoted to individuals with poor credit history.

However, consumers should be wary of companies or services selling CPNs for credit improvement purposes, as these often involve fraudulent or unethical practices.

Where do CPN numbers come from?

First, it’s important to know that all SSNs are issued by the Social Security Administration Office. Likewise, all EINs are issued by the IRS. Neither of these organizations issue CPNs. In fact, no government entity will issue such a thing as a credit protection number.

Some sellers of CPNs will claim to have attorneys who can request a CPN number application on your behalf. But again, no reputable and legal entity will issue CPNs.

The truth is, there are only two possible sources from which a ‘CPN’ can be obtained. Both of these methods are strictly illegal.

From Stolen or Inactive Genuine Social Security Numbers

In this case, real SSNs are often stolen from vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, and deceased or incarcerated people. Scammers will target these groups since they are more likely to have relatively inactive accounts, or be less likely to notice fraudulent behavior.

If any credit repair company or individual offers to sell you a CPN that guarantees are particular credit score, this is a strong indication that the CPN is actually a stolen SSN.

From Newly Generated Fake Social Security Numbers

Scammers can also create fake SSNs that have not yet been issued by the government. This is done by using algorithms to generate 9-digit numbers. These numbers are then run against databases to find out which numbers could pose as SSNs.

These fake SSNs are then sold as CPNs. If a company offers the chance to clear or restart your credit with a CPN, then you’re almost certainly being sold a fake Social Security number.

How to Obtain a CPN Number

Government entities do not recognize CPNs as a substitute for Social Security numbers, so there is no legitimate way to obtain one. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission, they don’t even exist.

While certain credit repair companies claim that CPNs are federal government-issued numbers, they’re either completely made up or stolen Social Security numbers. So, the only way to get a CPN is by purchasing a fake or stolen Social Security number.

It could likely be that the CPN you pay for actually belongs to a child, senior citizen, or prisoner. This could lead to severe repercussions if you decide to carry forward and use a CPN in place of your Social Security number.

Using a CPN is not legal, and using one can have serious consequences. So, how has this rumor persisted into our public consciousness?

The myth of CPNs starts with less-than-reputable companies offering individuals the chance to start a new credit file. A CPN can cost anywhere from $40 to $3,500.

Unfortunately, there is nothing legitimate about CPNs. We’ll tell you exactly what you need to know, so you can avoid being duped into paying for a clean slate that doesn’t exist.

Ready to Raise Your Credit Score?

Learn how credit repair professionals can assist you in disputing inaccuracies on your credit report.

Can you go to jail for using a credit privacy number?

Yes, federal law prohibits the use of credit privacy numbers on a credit application. You can be sentenced to jail for committing fraud. In fact, it’s a federal crime that could land you up to 30 years in federal prison, plus hefty fees and fines.

Using a CPN may seem like a great way to avoid dealing with a poor credit score, but it’s little more than a scam.

Can you get a loan with a credit privacy number?

Absolutely not. The only number you should enter on personal credit card or loan applications is your SSN.

The reason is quite serious: using a false Social Security number on credit applications is lying. So, those are potentially two separate charges if you get caught using a credit privacy number instead of your Social Security number.

You also might receive a separate sentence at the state level for using a CPN. This would potentially add more prison time and fines. If you’re dealing with the repercussions of a bad credit score, then you already have enough problems.

Luckily, you can solve them over time. When you’re convicted of a crime, on the other hand, you’re in a completely different world of trouble. So don’t risk it. Use your own Social Security number each time you apply for credit, and meanwhile, work on repairing your credit score honestly.

How to Avoid Credit Repair Scams

Legitimate credit repair companies won’t offer credit privacy numbers since they’re not lawful. Be cautious if a company suggests hiding your credit history, demands upfront payment before services are rendered, or offers unrealistic guarantees.

It’s worth noting that the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) mandates that credit repair services can’t mislead consumers or charge them before services are provided. Remember, nobody can promise credit approval, regardless of your credit standing.

While many credit repair agencies genuinely help clients improve their credit, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and informed to avoid falling prey to deceitful tactics, and to be aware of your rights under CROA.

Is a CPN effective against identity theft?

One of the potential merits of using a CPN is that it’s supposed to offer a new credit identity. However, in reality, this is not a legal option for anyone.

Using your Social Security number often exposes personal details, such as your address and purchase history, increasing its theft risk. Such vulnerabilities can be leveraged by identity thieves, resulting in issues like fraudulent tax returns. In cases where your SSN gets compromised, the Social Security Administration can assist you in acquiring a new one.

Better Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

Even without using a CPN, there are several ways to prevent identity theft. First, you should review your free credit report from all three major credit bureaus every year. That way, you’ll notice if any new accounts have been opened under your name without your authorization.

You can also place a freeze on your credit report, so that creditors can’t pull your financial information until you’ve listed the freeze. This prevents someone from applying for credit under your name, but can’t get approved without a full credit check.

Consider doing this if you’ve been impacted by a recent data breach by a major company or website, such as Target or Anthem.

Can I use my EIN instead of SSN when applying for credit?

An employer identification number (EIN) is primarily used to identify a business for tax and credit purposes, while a Social Security Number (SSN) pertains to an individual’s identity and creditworthiness. When applying for personal credit, lenders typically require an SSN to assess individual credit history.

Conversely, for business credit, lenders may request the EIN to evaluate the business’s creditworthiness. Generally, you cannot use an EIN in place of an SSN for personal credit applications. Attempting to interchange them could lead to application denials or potential legal complications. Always ensure you’re providing the appropriate identification number for the specific credit inquiry.

Credit Card Piggybacking

Some people also attempt to circumvent credit checks by getting added as an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. This is called credit card piggybacking. While this is legal, there are risks associated with this move.

If you rack up credit card debt and fail to make the payments, your friend or relative who is the original cardholder will be saddled with your debt. If neither of you makes the payments, their credit score will suffer just as much as yours does.

There’s also a risk of having your credit history ruined if the primary cardholder doesn’t make their payments. This is because both your credit reports and credit scores become inextricably linked when you share a credit card.

When one of you makes consistent payments each month, both of your credit scores will rise. But if either one of you overspends or lets the account fall into delinquency, you’ll both equally suffer the financial consequences.

What to Do Instead of Getting a CPN

While using a credit privacy number (CPN) won’t help you improve poor credit scores, there are steps you can take to improve your credit score legally and effectively.

Improve Your Credit With On-Time Payments

Your payment history is the factor that carries the biggest weight on your FICO credit score. The most effective way of improving bad credit is to focus on paying off debts, and making future payments on time. This will also help you to avoid late fees and penalties, saving you both money and stress.

Lower Your Credit Utilization Ratio

Your credit utilization ratio is the second-biggest factor influencing your credit score. As such, if you need to improve your credit score, you should do your very best to lower the percentage of available credit you’re using. Ideally, you can keep your credit utilization below 30%. In other words, try not to use more than 30% of your credit limit at any time.

Remove Errors From Your Credit Report

Another useful tip that can help clean your credit up is to search for and remove errors in your credit report. This is a free and relatively straightforward process, but if you don’t want to do it yourself, you can also seek professional assistance.

If there are errors on your credit report, having them cleared could bring a boost to your credit scores.

Professional Help

A financial advisor or credit counselor can help you explore your many legal options if you’re having credit problems. Additionally, the best credit repair companies won’t give you shady offers like a credit privacy number. Instead, they’ll look strategically at each item on your credit file to see what can be fixed.

Legitimate credit repair services can help you deal with negative items on your credit report. These items include charge-offs, collections, late payments, repossessions, and more.

They understand consumer law and work diligently on your behalf to ensure the creditor or collection agency is acting legally. Rather than committing a federal crime with a CPN, you can repair your credit with time-tested strategies that use the law in your favor.

Ready to Raise Your Credit Score?

Learn how credit repair professionals can assist you in disputing inaccuracies on your credit report.

Lauren Ward
Meet the author

Lauren is a personal finance writer who strives to equip readers with the knowledge to achieve their financial objectives. She has over a decade of experience and a Bachelor's degree in Japanese from Georgetown University.