What is a CPN?

People looking to repair their credit may come across an option known as a credit privacy number (CPN). Companies that sell these numbers offer them as a solution to hide bad credit information or bankruptcies. But how exactly does a CPN work? And is it even legal? 

Key takeaways

  • A CPN is a nine-digit number that’s formatted like a Social Security number (SSN).
  • The use of a CPN to create a false identity is illegal and may be considered identity theft.
  • CPNs might also be referred to as credit profile numbers or credit protection numbers.
  • People looking to repair their credit should be cautious of companies offering quick fixes or fraudulent CPNs.

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How does a credit privacy number work?

A CPN is a nine-digit number that’s formatted like an SSN. But it isn’t a substitute for an SSN, even though it’s often marketed as such.

Scam artists market CPNs as a way to hide bankruptcies or poor credit—or to use in place of an SSN when applying for new credit. But don’t fall for it. Your credit reports will still show any debts and bankruptcies. And misrepresenting your SSN on a credit application is a federal crime.

Is a CPN legal?

Selling CPNs as a way to repair credit is illegal. And many companies that sell CPNs get these numbers by stealing the SSNs of unsuspecting victims—like children, prison inmates or senior citizens—and presenting them as CPNs.

To help protect yourself, stay away from situations that could be CPN scams. For example, if you’re asked to pay a large sum of money or provide false information on a credit application. Rather than hiding your credit reports as promised, this can lead to the creation of a false identity and put you at risk of committing identity theft.

Can you apply for a new SSN instead?

There are very few situations in which an individual would be granted a new SSN, and restarting your credit isn’t one of them.

Even in those specific situations where someone might need a new SSN, the process isn’t easy. And even if it does occur, your identity will still be attached to your old SSN.

Other ways to improve your credit

Thankfully, there are many ways to rebuild credit. Here are a few strategies that can help, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

  • Always pay your bills on time. Making on-time payments each pay period is essential for healthy credit. To help make sure you don’t forget, consider setting up automatic payments or reminders.
  • Keep your credit utilization rate low. Carrying a high balance on your cards can increase your credit utilization rate and lower your credit scores. Closing credit card accounts and putting most or all of your credit onto one card can also hurt your credit by increasing your overall credit utilization rate. Experts say it’s best to keep debt at no more than 30% of your available credit limit whenever possible. 
  • Only apply for credit you need. Recent credit activity is one of the things credit scoring formulas look at when determining your credit scores. If you apply for a lot of credit in a short amount of time, it could make it look like your financial situation has worsened. So it may be worth holding off on opening any new accounts while you try to rebuild your credit.
  • Check your credit reports for errors. Monitoring your credit reports can help you spot mistakes or inconsistencies. So if you notice something looks off, be sure to report it and get it corrected as soon as possible.

CPNs in a nutshell

Be cautious of any company that makes promises for fast improvements of your credit, including CPN scams. Using a CPN to create a false identity for a credit application might be considered identity theft. And misrepresenting your SSN is a federal crime.

Thankfully, there are several ways you can improve your credit score on your own. Not sure where to start? Check out these tips for rebuilding your credit.

We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information, or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are solely responsible for their products and services, and all trademarks listed are the property of their respective owners.

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