A credit privacy number (CPN) is a nine-digit identifying number. It is offered to the consumer as a Social Security number alternative, to be used when one wants to hide their SSN. Government organizations do not issue CPNs. Instead, they are created by companies.
CPN companies claim that the number can hide bankruptcies or low credit, but these claims are unfounded and amount to little more than a shady scheme offered in bad faith.
Its primary use is to trick lenders into ignoring a loan applicant’s credit history. The companies that sell CPNs may allege they can be used instead of a Social Security number on loan applications. However, this practice is illegal.
We recommend that you do not waste your time or money with a CPN. All consumers should be aware that CPNs are a scam.
CPNs exist because many consumers are desperate to escape their credit history. They are willing to pay up to thousands of dollars to mask who they are and start a new credit identity. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work, and when it does, you’re likely breaking the law. You should avoid the product, as it can be illegal to change your SSN or provide the wrong SSN.
CPNs are offered as a “reset” for your credit history. Companies selling CPNs claim that credit agencies will not share your bad credit history with lenders. It promises a “fresh start,” but that fresh start is not legal and can land you in hot water.
A CPN doesn’t change your actual credit score. Using the number in place of your SSN is an illegal method for acquiring a loan. The product itself is ultimately a scam.
CPNs are not a replacement for Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) and Social Security numbers. The IRS uses these legitimate methods to help identify people, get them to pay their taxes, and allow finances to be tracked.
All three of these types of numbers are nine digits, so they appear similar. Logistically, it’s easy to see how a computer system might accept a CPN as an alternative to these, but that doesn’t make it legal.
ITINs are less common than SSNs, but they are still legitimate. They’re usually issued to non-resident, resident aliens, or people who can’t get SSNs. An ITIN is formatted the same way, but all these numbers begin with a ‘9’.
A CPN is just an attempt to game the system by creating a number that appears the same.
Obtaining a new SSN is an arduous process and is usually only done in special circumstances.
For example, if there are mix-ups and the SSNs of family members are causing confusion, you may be issued a new one. Having a poor credit score is not a good enough reason for requesting a new SSN.
Also, victims of abuse or stalking may be able to change their identity and SSN. Usually, they may need to provide medical records and police reports to be eligible. More information about this process is in the Social Security pamphlet, New Numbers for Domestic Violence Victims.
Additionally, if your SSN is being used for fraud, you may also be able to apply for a replacement number. However, this may be a long process, and it can require evidence that your SSN is being used by someone else to commit fraud.
The bottom line is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
It might look good on paper, but you need to do a little digging. If companies are offering you a CPN to hide a bad credit history, then these are likely fraudulent and illegal. Changes to an SSN are not permitted or legal unless in special cases.
You can research the Credit Repair Organization Act, which offers some protections for consumers and clarifies how both parties must act in credit agreements. We recommend speaking with an attorney before moving forward with changing your SSN.
We understand that building your credit is hard work, and when someone offers you an alternative, it can be very tempting.
Unfortunately, CPNs are not a legal option when used in place of your SSN on a credit application. Changes cannot usually be made to your SSN. Instead, consider building and improving your credit score. Although the CPN promises a lot, you may find yourself in legal trouble if you succumb to the temptation to try and game the system this way.
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