A Credit Privacy Number, or CPN, is a 9-digit identifying number that acts like a social security number. In 1974, when the U.S. Privacy Act was passed, consumers were allowed to withhold revealing their SSN when they were not legally required to give it and instead, would give their CPN.
These days, credit repair agencies are selling CPNs as a way for consumers to have a “clean slate” on their credit. However, in most cases, many of the CPNs out there are the stolen Social Security Numbers of children or deceased individuals. Scammers use these because it could potentially be many years before the scam is ever uncovered. Because of this, the government no longer recognizes or legitimizes CPNs.
Since these CPNs are usually stolen social security numbers, using one to get a loan, credit card, or other financial product is considered identity theft. Using one on any loan application is considered a federal crime.
Some red flags associated with CPN’s would be if you are asked to do things like change your phone number, get a driver’s license with a different address, or start using a new email address. This is done so information on the new CPN will not match any of the other identifying information listed on your real SSN. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned against companies offering new credit identities, calling it a scam.
Fraudsters are also buying CPNs and creating synthetic identities to obtain credit. Consumers are frequently arrested for their involvement in synthetic identity schemes and even ordered to pay creditors back the money that they defrauded. As a reminder, falsely reporting your Social Security Number on a credit application is fraudulent and could send you to jail.