A Credit Privacy Number, or CPN, is a nine-digit that number looks just like a Social Security Number. CPNs are fraudulently being marketed as a way around bad credit.
Companies selling credit privacy numbers tell unsuspecting consumers that a credit privacy number can be used in place of a social security number to obtain credit cards, loans, cars, and rent apartments.
CPNs are not a fresh start to building a new credit score. This quick fix to bad credit can land you in jail.
What is a Credit Privacy Number (CPN)
A Credit Privacy Number (CPN) is a 9-digit number that resembles a Social Security Number, the IRS-provided Individual Tax Identification Number or Employer Identification Number. Companies offering CPNs advertise a new credit file with the use of a CPN. CPNs, also known as Credit Profile Numbers and Credit Protection Numbers — all of which are illegal to use on credit, bank and lender applications.
Are Credit Privacy Numbers Legal
Credit Privacy Numbers are not legal. While CPN’s seem to be all the rage on the Internets, using one for credit purposes is illegal. Numerous companies, agencies, organizations, and individuals are providing CPNs as a means of misusing the 9-digit number and possibly committing identity theft. That’s because some CPNs that have been sold have been dormant Social Security numbers belonging to children and dead people.
How Are Credit Privacy Numbers Used
Consumers purchasing a CPN are told they can use it as a method of creating a new, separate credit file to replace bad credit, low credit scores, bankruptcy, and slow or late payments on their current credit record. The cost of CPNs ranges from about $40 to as much as $3,500. Using a CPN to establish a new or alternate credit history is illegal.
Any advertisements that promise a “new credit identity” or a “fresh start” by offering CPNs to use in place of your Social Security number is a scam.
Major issues with Credit Privacy Numbers
Credit privacy numbers 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 are companies 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. T
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.
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
- Credit Privacy Numbers are not meant to start a new credit history to avoid paying outstanding debt. Outstanding debt does not magically disappear. A CPN should not be used to replace a bad credit history. There are better ways to deal with debt and to fix credit.
- Providing a number other than an SSN on a credit application when the application explicitly requests an SSN is illegal and can result in criminal prosecution. While it’s 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 (so that’s two crimes).
- 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.
- By requiring that you create a new address, phone number, and email address; along with your CPN, you are essentially creating a new identity — which is illegal.
- Crackdowns are occurring. It may not be your intention to commit fraud using a CPN, but that’s what it’s considered under the law.
- The Office of Inspector General – Social Security Administration addresses the issue of Credit Privacy Numbers in a 2011 Memo where it says explicitly that “consumers should know that CPNs are not legal.”
- The Federal Trade Commission warns, “…it’s a scam. These companies may be selling stolen Social Security numbers, often those taken from children. By using a stolen number as your own, the con artists will have involved you in identity theft..”
Here are a few recent examples of consumers using CPNs and caught-up in the crackdown:
- Feb. 2020 – Swatisha Keith explains how she barely avoided prison after unknowingly using a CPN to establish a new credit history.
- Feb. 2020 – Jo Ann Deal from the Better Business Bureau of Monroe, LA warns of the rising credit scam.
- Jan. 2020 – More than $5.5 million in auto loan applications linked to borrowers using synthetic identities by manipulating Social Security numbers.
- Apr. 2019 – Emarr Fannell Greer of Oklahoma was sentenced to 24 months in prison for fraudulent use of a Social Security Number by applying for a Discover Card and car loan using a CPN.
- Oct. 2018 – Calvin Wayne Cade, Jr. of Oklahoma City was sentenced to eighteen months in prison for using a CPN on credit applications.
- Apr. 2017 – Several GA residents sentenced to prison and ordered to pay restitution as high as $400,000 for using CPNs.
How to get legitimately improve credit score
Websites that offer CPNs are 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 scores 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 — point-blank-period!
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.