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What Is a CPN, or Credit Privacy Number?

If you’ve ever gotten into a bad credit situation, you’ve probably looked for any way to fix it. One fix that you may see companies advertising is a CPN, but be very careful. A CPN stands for a credit privacy number or credit protection number. These numbers are similar to Social Security numbers, although they do not replace your SSN. They’re typically used when you need extra security, like if you’re under witness protection. Contrary to what many websites may tell you, you cannot buy a legal CPN on the internet to fix your credit rating. Do not fall for this scam!

A CPN Is Not a Credit Fix

Websites have sprung up all over the internet, offering CPNs to people with bad credit. They advertise that this number can serve as a “get out of jail free” card for your bad credit. In theory, you can use a CPN instead of your SSN on credit applications to hide the poor credit associated with your personal SSN. If you have bad credit but still need a credit card or loan, this can seem like an ideal option. However, these CPN companies charge anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

That price might seem worth it for a chance to wipe the slate clean. However, these offers are essentially a big scam. The CPNs you can buy online are not legally assigned credit protection numbers. Instead, they are usually stolen Social Security numbers, taken from children or the deceased.

Unfortunately, falling for this scam puts you in some hot water, too. Credit agencies can easily spot discrepancies if you try to use a CPN on an application instead of your SSN. Not only will this fail to help your credit, but it’s also committing fraud which is punishable by jail time.

How to Avoid CPN Scams 

What Is a CPN, or Credit Privacy Number?

If you’re dealing with some bad credit, don’t turn to a CPN. If you have to pay for a CPN, that indicates a scam that will cheat you out of your personal information and hundreds or thousands of dollars. It can also end up in jail time for you if you try to use that number, even if you didn’t know it was fraudulent. This is why it’s important to be aware of this popular scam.

If you really need a CPN, it will be free. The process will also go through the Social Security Administration Office, since your SSN will be tied to your new CPN. Do not trust any other websites or companies that claim they can give you a CPN or a credit reset. There’s no such thing, at least not something that comes so easily.

How to Get a Legal CPN

With so many fraudulent websites and companies trying to sell you a way to better credit, it’s hard to know how to get a legal CPN. Unfortunately, there’s so much misinformation out there. Some experts say that you can speak with an attorney to obtain a legal CPN. The attorney can then contact the Social Security Administration Office on your behalf. However, others maintain that all CPNs are illegal.

Generally, it seems that you cannot get a legal CPN unless you actually need one. These situations include celebrities, government officials and people under witness protection. You can also apply in other specific instances, like if you’re a victim of abuse, stalking or identity theft. A real CPN would be attached to your SSN, so it’s still not an escape from the credit tied to your SSN.

You may also stumble upon offers to obtain an EIN, or Employer Identification Number. The IRS does issue EINs, but only businesses can use them for business costs. This means that you cannot legally obtain an EIN as an individual looking to improve your credit. You also cannot make up a home business, apply for an EIN and use that new number for a credit reset. It is a federal crime to obtain an EIN under false pretenses. In any case, the credit profile for your EIN is still tied to your SSN.

Bottom Line

What Is a CPN, or Credit Privacy Number?

You shouldn’t ever, under any circumstances purchase a CPN from a website. These offers are fraudulent and don’t provide any credit repair or relief. At the very least, buying a CPN wastes money you should put towards repaying your loans in the first place. At worst, you could go to jail for fraud. There are better, more constructive ways to repair your credit. If you’re truly in a situation that calls for a CPN, contact your lawyer for assistance.

Tips on Rebuilding Your Credit 

  • The best way to legally clean up your credit is to pay back your debts and improve your credit practices. That way, you won’t end up accumulating more and more debt. A good start is to pay off what you can, perhaps starting with the debts with the highest interest.
  • If you’re struggling with your credit cards, instead of purchasing an illegal CPN, put that money towards paying off your credit card debt. Then start paying each bill on time and as fully as you can. This prevents your carried balance from accruing interest over and over again. Plus, each on-time payment builds positive payment history which, in turn, improves your credit score.
  • Sometimes there’s nothing more you can do to repair your credit than waiting it out. Generally, negative info stays on your credit report for seven years. If you can’t get a debt collection removed from your credit report, for example, it’ll stay there for seven years. However, as time goes on, the toll it takes on your report lessens.

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Photo credit: ©iStock.com/becon, ©iStock.com/Xesai, ©iStock.com/Kerkez

Danielle Klimashousky Danielle Klimashousky is a freelance writer who covers a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset. She is an expert on topics including credit cards and home buying. Danielle has a BA in English from Wesleyan University.
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