CPNs: The Real Story

Your credit is in disarray. You have overdue payments, missed payments, collection attempts and other derogatory information on your credit report. Things cannot get worse. Can they?

Yes, they can. Pay a CPN (Credit Privacy Number) broker for a CPN number and you could go to jail for fraud.

Credit Privacy Numbers go by many names including:

  • Credit profile number; and
  • Secondary credit number (SCN)

There is much debate on message boards concerning their legality for use as a credit repair tool. The information available from trusted authorities suggests their use is often an attempt to break the law concerning a person obtaining credit. It is likely that an offer to get you a CPN by any name is an invitation for you to become involved in a scam. Unfortunately, your use of a CPN to get credit can lead you to a large fine or time in prison, even if a borrower believes that the CPN is legit.

A CPN is a nine-digit number that looks exactly like your social security number. The Credit Repair Organizations Act is a federal law that regulates how credit repair companies do business. The act prohibits untrue or misleading advertising, payment before services are received, and that credit repair contracts be in writing. You have other rights under the act that includes:

  • A legal contract
  • A three-day cooling-off period
  • The anticipated amount of time your credit repair will take
  • Your total cost for the service
  • Guarantees made by the credit repair company

In addition, the law forbids consumers from opening a second credit file thus making a CPN illegal for credit repair purposes.

Often, shady credit repair companies advertise their ability to get you a new CPN. Most of the time you don’t get a unique CPN if you get any number, it is probably a stolen social security number. In either case, using a CPN or SCN instead of your social security number is fraud making them illegal for purposes of obtaining credit or a loan.

In 2013, 18 people were arrested for participating in a scheme to defraud Social Security using CPNs. David Day was among those arrested who, as a group, consisted of buyers and sellers of CPNs. Day not only sold CPN numbers, he also used them to obtain loans and credit lines. Day was accused and convicted of using a Social Security number frequently and was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Take Aways

  • There are no “quick” ways to repair your credit
  • A Credit Privacy Number is not a legal substitute for your Social Security Number and cannot be used to obtain a second credit file.
  • Credit reporting agencies and those giving credit don’t want your CPN, they want your Social Security Number. While you don’t have to give them your social security number, they don’t have to give you credit without it. The lure of starting fresh without rebuilding your credit is a hook that unscrupulous credit repair agencies use to reel you in. Don’t fall for the scheme. It’s better to spend your money on a legitimate credit repair agency. Do a little research before you sign up. Check the Better Business Bureau ratings for credit repair companies, less than an A rating means caution on your part. In addition, check to make sure the credit repair agency you want to use is accredited by The National Foundation for Credit Counseling.