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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!
What’s a Credit Privacy Number?
A credit privacy number or CPN is an ID number that many says can be used instead of using your Social Security number…in some cases.
People sell these numbers, and they claim that even people with bad credit can use these instead of their Social Security numbers to get loans, credit cards, and other financial products that they otherwise wouldn’t qualify for. Those who sell CPNs also tell consumers that when they start using their CPN, that they can improve their credit. Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it is, but more about that, later.
The FTC, Federal Trade Commission, has claimed that telling people using these numbers to fix their credit score is a downright scam.
If you do use one, you could become involved on the wrong side of identity theft, or you could even end up in prison if you, by chance, mix up your CPN with your Social Security number on an official document.
There are a lot of red flags associated with this, of course. First, when you try to get a CPN, you might be asked to do things like change your phone number, get a driver’s license that has a different address or even start using a new email address. Of course, there is also a fee to get the numbers. You might think people would shy away from these, but no…they still get them.
A CPN Doesn’t Fix Your Credit
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.
Where Can I Get A CPN Number?
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.
If it’s not the case and you’re still interested in obtaining a CPN number, you will have to find a company that sells these numbers. There are many companies that offer CPN numbers.
Above all else, you need to be cautious about who you get a CPN number from.
Make sure you know what you are paying for. These offers are fraudulent and don’t provide any credit repair or debt 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.
Misrepresenting Your Social Security Number is a Federal Crime
According to the Federal Trade Commission, lying on a credit application and misrepresenting your Social Security number are both federal crimes. Even if you obtain a CPN from a company that looks 100 percent legit, you’re still breaking the law if you plug that into the Social Security box on a credit application. Bascially, you’re lying by omission by substituting a credit privacy number for your real information.
What’s worse, that credit privacy number you’ve paid so much money for could be stolen. Some credit repair companies are actually just recycling Social Security numbers that have been issued to other people and passing them off as credit privacy numbers to unsuspecting consumers. According to a report from the Federal Reserve, credit repair scammers will swipe Social Security numbers belonging to children, seniors and people who are incarcerated just for this purpose.
Using someone else’s Social Security number to get credit in your name is also a federal crime. Currently, the max penalty for identity theft is 15 years in prison, not to mention having to pay some substantial fines. That’s on top of any punishment you might get at the state level if you’re convicted of identity theft. When you put it in that perspective, it’s pretty easy to see why credit privacy numbers are more trouble than they’re worth.
CPN Scams Protection
Maybe you’ve come across a company that promises you the chance to start again by using a CPN number to apply for new credit, untangling yourself from a checkered credit history in the process. As I discussed above, that’s a very unlikely scenario. In fact, you should be very wary of any company that claims to produce CPNs.
Unfortunately, here’s what typically happens: The company has purchased an actual, albeit “dormant,” SSN to pass off as a CPN number.
It may have been the SSN of someone who died, or perhaps it belongs to a child. Either way, its owner hasn’t used it recently to apply for credit, so it may not immediately trigger red flags with the creditor.
Signs Of CPN Scam
Here are several signs that a company is trying to scam you with a CPN:
- The company tells you it’s perfectly legal to apply for credit using a CPN in place of your SSN. It’s not — it’s actually fraud. You also risk being charged in an identity theft case if investigators determine the number was a stolen SSN.
- The company instructs you to lie about other information that may connect you to your old credit history. A creditor uses more than your SSN to check your account history.
- The company tells you to use an EIN, or Employee Identification Number, to apply for credit. Businesses use EINs for specific financial reporting purposes, but they are not for personal credit applications.
- The company demands that you pay for a CPN or any services before doing any work for you. It’s common (and illegal) for scammers to demand upfront payment before providing services.
- The company promises that you’ll no longer be associated with your old credit accounts. As I mentioned above, creditors use more than your SSN to identify you and your past accounts.
- The company promises that you’ll be able to obtain new credit with a CPN. No one can guarantee whether a creditor will accept or deny an application on any basis.