What Is a Credit Privacy Number (CPN)? How to Avoid Them and Build Your Credit the Right Way

how to get a good car loan with bad credit
Published January 20, 2024


A credit privacy number (CPN) is a falsified series of numbers that bad actors use in place of a Social Security number and promote as a quick way for people to repair or hide their credit history. You should avoid purchasing and using on your credit applications.

In this article:

How does a CPN work
Are credit protection numbers legal
CPN vs SSN differences
how to spot potential CPN scams
6 ways to rebuild credit without a CPN
Avoid credit repair scams and protect your identity

A CPN, or credit privacy number, is a number that mimics a Social Security number. Some credit repair companies may market it to consumers to help hide poor credit history and repair credit. These services are often scams, and using a CPN to deceive or defraud creditors is against the law.

In this guide, you’ll learn what CPNs are and how they work, tips to avoid CPN scams and considerations that can help you build your credit legitimately.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bad actors market CPNs to consumers to use in place of SSNs in an attempt to cover bad credit history and provide a “quick fix” for credit repair
  • Use of CPNs, instead of SSNs, on credit applications is illegal and considered fraud since it’s falsified information
  • CPNs are not backed by the government and could be considered identity theft
  • Build and repair credit using legitimate practices by managing credit responsibly and monitoring your credit report and score


How does a CPN work

Companies sell and create CPNs to those looking for a quick credit fix. They often follow fraudulent practices and use stolen Social Security numbers (SSNs) from individuals to create these CPNs.

To sell them, companies will market CPNs as legitimate alternatives to SSNs, especially in the context of credit repair or obtaining credit. Individuals with bad credit who purchase CPNs can also misled to believe they can use them to:

  • Get better interest rates and loan terms
  • Qualify for a loan in the first place

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, CPNs are sometimes stolen Social Security numbers or simply random 9 digit numbers .


how does a cpn scam work

Are CPNs Legal?

The CPN itself is not illegal but likely not legitimate. Some scammers will falsely claim that CPNs are okay to use by citing the Privacy Act of 1974. It allows people to protect themselves from unwarranted invasion of privacy resulting from the collection of their personal information, such as a Social Security number.

Using CPNs to help repair or cover up poor credit history is illegal. The government does not issue CPNs, and using anything other than a government approved or issued identification on a credit application is fraud and a social security scam.

Using a CPN to hide your credit history can be considered identity theft since you’re using a fake number — or an SSN the company stole to sell as a CPN. Overall, it’s not a wise solution for rebuilding credit

CPN vs. SSN: Knowing the difference

The key difference is that SSNs are government-backed and are legally allowed on financial applications, whereas CPNs are not.

Using a CPN in place of an SSN is illegal, and in some cases, individuals may use CPNs to attempt to establish new credit identities.

CPN vs SSN Key Differences

- Issued by the government
- Used for legal and credit-purposes
- Issued to individuals free of charge
- Linked to an individual's credit history

- Not backed by the government
- Illegal usage and can be considered fraud
- Companies will often charge customers
- Not linked to an individual's credit history since CPNs not likely accepted by agencies

How to spot potential credit repair scams

Aside from selling a CPN to a consumer, here are some tips and red flags to help you spot and avoid credit repair scams or any fraudulent credit schemes:

  • Payments requested in advance: If a company asks for payment before providing any credit repair services, it could be a sign of fraudulent activity. The Credit Repair Organizations Act states that credit repair companies can’t
  • Quick-fix claims: Be wary of companies that claim to quickly fix credit and remove bad credit history. Building credit takes time and requires a history of responsible financial history.
  • No government affiliation: If the company is not backed by the government, it’s typically a red flag. Legitimate personal identification, like a Social Security number, is issued through the government.
  • Doesn’t state your rights: Most legitimate agencies, like debt counseling businesses, will typically explain your rights and what you can do yourself for free. They will use very clear language to describe this. Scammers will often use vague language and will often say that you have to hire them or pay to use services that are typically free, such as accessing a copy of your credit report.

credit repair scam red flags

If you come across a CPN scam or think your credit report has been affected, be sure to report it as fraud to a credit bureau like TransUnion or on FTC’s website.

Can you get a new SSN?

In general, obtaining a new SSN is a rare and highly restricted process. The Social Security Administration (SSA) issues individuals one SSN, which typically stays with them throughout their lives.

The SSA may consider assigning a new SSN only in very limited and specific circumstances, and even then, it’s typically only done if an individual is experiencing severe identity theft issues. These circumstances can include:

  • The person has experienced repeated identity theft attempts
  • The person has is in a situation of harassment, abuse or life endangerment

However, you can’t get an SSN if you want to have it for personal reasons. The process is reserved for cases with strong evidence of ongoing, severe identity theft or similar situations that cannot be resolved through other means.

6 ways to rebuild credit without a CPN

Rebuilding your credit is a gradual process that involves responsible financial management and consistent positive behavior. Here are key steps to rebuilding your credit without a CPN.

top credit building tips

1. Pay your bills on time

Payment history is a significant factor in your credit score, and consistent, timely payments have a positive impact. For example, a history of on-time payments suggests reliability and reduces the perceived risk, making lenders more likely to approve your credit applications.

Pro Tip: Set up automatic payments or reminders to ensure timely payments for all your credit accounts, including credit cards, loans and utilities.

2. Reduce credit card balances

The amount you owe relative to your credit limit, known as your credit utilization ratio, influences your credit score. Lowering balances reduces your credit utilization, which positively affects your creditworthiness.

Pro Tip: Try to keep your credit utilization under 30%, but the lower the better. And, pay down high-interest credit cards first and consider negotiating lower interest rates with your creditors.

3. Diversify your credit mix

Lenders often like to see a mix of different types of credit. A diverse range of credit types shows that you can responsibly manage multiple credit accounts.

These different types of credit can include installment and revolving accounts:

  • Installment credit: This type of credit has monthly payments with a fixed end date and includes personal, student loans, auto loans and mortgages.
  • Revolving credit: This credit type carries a minimum monthly payment, but there is no specific end date. This usually applies to credit cards and home equity lines of credit (HELOC).

4. Avoid frequent credit applications

Most credit applications will result in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can slightly lower your credit score. Multiple credit inquiries within a short period can signal potential financial instability to lenders, making you appear riskier as a borrower.

Pro Tip: Avoid taking on unnecessary credit. And limit credit applications to necessary instances and plan your credit needs before rate shopping for specific loans.

5. Monitor your credit regularly

Regularly checking your credit report allows you to spot errors, unauthorized accounts or potential signs of identity theft. Additionally, staying informed about changes on your credit report helps you track your:

  • Credit utilization
  • Payment history
  • Overall credit health

Being vigilant can allow you to make timely adjustments and address potential issues.

Pro Tip:Consider using TransUnion Credit Monitoring services to review your TransUnion credit report and VantageScore® 3.0 credit score anytime, anywhere.

  • Score and report updates are available daily
  • Receive alerts that tell you about critical changes to your accounts
  • Get a personalized debt analysis to evaluate your debt-to-income (DTI)
  • Review actionable steps to point your score in the right direction with CreditCompass™

TransUnion Credit Monitoring helps keep you informed, so if you need to act fast, you can.

6. Dispute inaccurate information

Incorrect information on your credit report can negatively impact your credit score. If you spot anything inaccurate on your credit report, you should dispute it with the credit bureau.

Examples of inaccurate information on your credit report could include:

  • Identity information errors, such as wrong name
  • Accounts incorrectly reported as delinquent or late
  • Incorrect account status, such as closed accounts reflected as open
  • Wrong date for last payment or account open date
  • Accounts listed with the wrong credit limit
  • Accounts appearing multiple times but with various creditors listed

Be sure to only dispute this information if it’s inaccurate, not just negative.

Pro Tip: Be sure to get your free weekly credit report at annualcreditreport.com to review your credit history. If you spot errors on your credit report, then gather up supporting documentation and follow up with your credit bureau to ensure corrections are made.

Avoid credit repair scams and protect your identity

It’s important to understand the risks involved with CPNs. Unscrupulous companies might claim that you can use them instead of your SSN. But CPNs are often actual Social Security numbers that are stolen from people with no credit activity such as children or prison inmates. Furthermore, using a CPN instead of your SSN on a credit application is illegal.

Getting a CPN is not the solution to repair your credit. Instead, pursue legitimate means of credit repair. These efforts will take time. Be sure to start by reviewing your credit report to ensure that there aren’t any errors and work to pay your bills on time, since that’s a major credit score factor.. If you’re heavily in debt or have accounts that have gone into collections, then consider researching credit counseling companies to help you.

With TransUnion Identity Protection, you can be confident that your personal credit information is safe from fraud.

Disclaimer: The information posted to this blog was accurate at the time it was initially published. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. The information contained in the TransUnion blog is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. You should consult your own attorney or financial adviser regarding your particular situation. This site is governed by the TransUnion Interactive privacy policy located here

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