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Credit Privacy Numbers: Lenders are not required to use them

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If you have experienced identity theft or you are concerned about identity theft occurring then a Credit Privacy Number also referred to as a Credit Profile Number may be the solution.

You have the legal right to keep your Social Security number private with some exceptions like dealing with the IRS, employers, motor vehicle department or applying for a federally insured loan.

What is a Credit Privacy Number (CPN)

A Credit Privacy Number (CPN) is a 9-digit number that can be used in place of a Social Security number for credit reporting and other financial purposes. Social Security numbers can potentially link all of your public and private information to you, including where you live and even recent medical procedures. A CPN, in theory, would give an added layer of protection to keep your information private. A CPN is not meant to establish a new or alternate credit history to replace a bad credit history.

Credit Privacy Numbers used to Falsify Credit History

CPN’s seem to be all the rage on the Internet. While it is a legitimate alternative if you have concerns about using your Social Security number for credit applications and other financial purposes it is definitely not an alternate or second Social Security number.

Ads that promise a “new credit identity” or a “fresh start” by offering a credit privacy or credit profile number for use in place of your Social Security number may be a scam.

Consumers that purchase a CPN and use it to establish a clean credit file may be committing several crimes, including identity theft and making false statements on loan or credit card applications.

Problems with buying a Credit Privacy Number

The first thing you need to know is that legitimate Credit Privacy Numbers are free, so don’t let anyone trick you into paying for one. There is no credit repair scheme or credit building program you need to sign up for in order to legitimately apply for a Credit Privacy Number.

The way CPNs are being marketed, especially on the Internet, can get you in trouble. What ends up happening is that the CPNs purchased may match Social Security numbers belonging to children, incarcerated individuals, the elderly and even deceased individuals. Even worse, it may be a valid SSN currently in use. Using fabricated information or a stolen SSN to obtain credit constitutes fraud.

Even though it is not your intention to defraud anyone it can happen unintentionally if the Credit Privacy Number is someone else’s Social Security number.

Where companies are getting Credit Privacy Numbers

Companies selling Credit Privacy numbers find random Social Security numbers and run them through public databases to determine their status. Some companies have access credit bureau reporting where they can run a check on SSNs against available public databases, such as the Social Security Administration’s death index. They will guarantee you the CPN issued is not currently in use. If the number is validated as an active Social Security number that is not on file with the credit bureaus — they are offered for sale.

The problem is finding a number that you can legitimately use as a credit privacy number is very difficult. When someone uses a CPN like an SSN, but then the Social Security Administration assigns that number to someone else, complications can occur. People with no credit activity such as children, the longtime incarcerated and elderly persons are the most likely source of Credit Privacy numbers. But that does not mean the CPN can be used to establish a new credit profile. You would be committing fraud and potentially subject to serious criminal penalties.

What Consumers Need to Know about CPNs

  • Any US citizen can request a Credit Privacy Number. You have the legal right to keep your Social Security number private. CPN’s are sometimes used by celebrities, elected officials and people in witness protection programs. It offers a layer of privacy and can help you keep your finances safe and hidden from the public eye.
  • Credit Privacy Numbers are not meant to start a new credit history and avoid paying outstanding debt. If you obtain a legal CPN any debts incurred on credit accounts referencing a Social Security number remain your responsibility. A CPN should not be used to replace a bad credit history established under a Social Security number.
  • Providing a number other than a SSN on a credit application when the application explicitly requests a SSN is illegal and can result in criminal prosecution. While it is true you are not required to give a bank or lender your Social Security number, a bank or lender can also choose to deny your application as a result.
  • If a lender asks you for your SSN on an application but you provide a CPN instead, you will have just committed a Federal crime. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission lying on a credit application and misrepresenting your SSN are both Federal crimes.
  • Approach with caution any company offering CPNs that come with already established trade-lines or ones that would qualify you for lines of credit.
  • Your SSN isn’t your only identifying information with credit bureaus. Your creditors will use your name, address history, and other basics to connect you with old accounts — not simply your SSN. Using an alternative number doesn’t necessarily separate you from your old debts.
  • Avoid any company offering CPNs for a fee along with additional fees to “establish new credit.” If you are told to use your real name and date of birth, but to avoid listing your current address, phone number, or any other personal information that may connect the “new credit profile” with your “old credit file” it could get you into legal trouble.
  • Watch out for any company offering CPNs that advise you not to disclose any information that would tie you to your old credit profile’s address. This means you have to use a different mailing address, phone number, and any other information that you used in the past. This isn’t easy to do. It can get confusing trying to maintain a new credit file while avoiding your old credit file.

How to get a legitimate Credit Privacy Number

I don’t recommend using a Credit Privacy Number unless you hire an attorney who can file a request for a CPN with the Social Security Administration. The CPN is free but you will incur the cost of an attorney. The Social Security Administration will want to know the reasons you are applying for a CPN. Websites that offer CPNs for a fee are most likely not legitimate.

The promise of a “new credit identity” and a “fresh start” is enticing. Credit Privacy Numbers are not the way to get your credit back on track. The last thing you want is to look over your shoulder every time you apply for credit or open a bank account. If you use any number in place of your Social Security number on a credit application, you are committing a federal crime.

A CPN should only be used for privacy and security, not as a loophole to get a new credit identity. Consult with an attorney, as well as the Social Security Administration in order to make sure you’re obtaining a CPN from a legitimate source.

With the money spent purchasing a CPN along with a “program” to buy tradelines or build credit under your new number; you could use that money to legally rebuild credit. Strategies like negotiating a pay for delete agreement with collection agencies, disputing errors on accounts, dispute late payments, request a goodwill adjustment to delete negative credit, rebuild credit with secured cards are risk free. Building new credit should not involve the possibility of jail time.

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