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If you or someone you know has bad credit, you’ve most likely already heard of a credit privacy number (CPN). But, what is a CPN number, exactly?

A CPN is often marketed as a fresh start to circumvent the negative consequences of a low credit score and to help you as you apply for credit. It promises that you can still apply for a loan or credit card despite having a poor financial history.

That sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it is!

In this article, we’ll look at what a CPN is, how it works, and why you should avoid it at all costs.

What is a CPN?

A CPN, or credit privacy number, is a nine-digit number that can be used in place of your Social Security Number when applying for loans or credit cards. While it is possible to legally apply for a new CPN with the Social Security Administration Office (SSA), you need a very good reason to be approved, and a bad credit score isn’t one of them. If you were to get a new CPN, it would still be tied to your old SSN.

CPNs are commonly marketed by companies as a fresh new number to hide a bad credit score from banks or financial institutions. CPNs are not a viable long-term solution for repairing bad credit and in fact, acquiring one from anywhere other than the SSA is not even legal. CPNs being sold are dormant Social Security Numbers stolen from people who don’t use them, such as children or inmates. Meaning, you’re using the SSN of another person and not a new CPN assigned to you.

Others might also refer to a CPN as a credit protection number or consumer profile number. So if you’re offered these, know that they’re all the same thing.

Should I Buy a CPN Number?

The answer is a big no.

There is absolutely no good, legal reason for you to buy a CPN number. Period.

First, neither federal nor state governments recognize or identify a CPN, meaning they are illegal when used to complete a credit application.

By using a CPN in place of an SSN in your credit or loan application, you’re committing two federal crimes. One is giving false information on your application. The other is misrepresenting your SSN. Both will land you in jail.

On top of that, CPNs don’t work as intended. That’s because your SSN isn’t the only identification that connects you to your credit history. There’s also your legal name, addresses, and a host of other publicly available information. Even if you think you’ve done an excellent job of hiding these, creditors will catch on sooner or later.

Lastly, buying a CPN isn’t cheap—it can cost you hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Paying that much money for something that is illegal, and doesn’t work, is overall a bad investment.

How to Avoid a CPN Scam

It can be easy to avoid a CPN scam as long as you’re aware of the signs. As previously stated, any company trying to market you a CPN number should be viewed as a red flag. Along with any guarantees of credit card approval with a new CPN or the ability to repair your credit.

In addition, any offers on “CPN loans” should be avoided. If you want to learn more about this and other credit repair scams, we recommend checking out this article from the Federal Trade Commission.

Credit Privacy Number Alternatives

The sad truth is that there’s no magic, overnight solution that fixes bad credit. Nor can you hide it from banks or creditors.

The good news is that you can recover from your financial situation, poor credit doesn’t have to stay that way. It just takes time, effort, and discipline to turn it around.

Effectively managing your debt is a vital aspect of maintaining your credit. If you have large amounts of debt that you can’t handle at the moment, take a look at our debt relief page to explore some options.  Additionally, you can fill out our online debt consultation form, and a member from our team will be in touch to walk you through our debt-relief program and what it could look like for you.

Common Questions about CPNs

How can I tell if I have a CPN?

At face value, a CPN will look identical to a social security number, but the main difference is that one is a legitimate number assigned by the Social Security Administration, while the other is generally a scam to get people to pay for a stolen social security number. If you’ve worked with a company that promised to hide your credit history or past bankruptcies with a social security number alternative, then it is likely you have a CPN.

Can I rent an apartment with a CPN number?

Using an unauthorized identification number for any purchases or applications is a fraudulent activity and can lead to jail time if you are caught. While you may be able to initially secure an apartment using this, it is likely you will be caught using this alternative credit identity when your credit report is run as your name will not be associated with the fraudulent number according to the credit bureaus.

Can you go to jail for CPN?

The short answer is yes, you can go to jail for either committing credit card or financial fraud. There are different degrees of what someone can be charged with, but either way could result in serious legal ramifications if found guilty.

Can you legally use a CPN number?

There are extremely unique cases where the Social Security Administration might provide a real CPN to individuals. This would typically be reserved for high-profile individuals and people who are in the witness protection program. However, using this CPN won’t hide your credit history, but will just associate a secondary number with your social security number. These numbers are very rarely granted and are only legitimate if secured directly through the Social Security Administration

Are there other names for a Credit Privacy Number?

While a Credit Privacy Number may be the most common way these numbers are referred to, some companies will call them a credit protection number, consumer privacy number, credit profile number, or something similar.