The recent data breach at Equifax compromised the personal information of millions of consumers. Whether your information was compromised or not as part of this data breach, a credit freeze may be a good idea, but you have to obtain a freeze from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Freezing your credit file prevents anyone from opening new credit accounts in your name. Should anyone apply for credit using your personal information, the lender will be unable to access your credit report. Without access to your credit history, the lender will deny the credit request. Instead of doing a credit freeze you can protect your personal information by getting a CPN.
A credit privacy number, or CPN, is a nine-digit ID that can be used in lieu of a Social Security number for credit reporting and other financial purposes, like applying for a loan. So why use a CPN instead of an SSN, anyway?
Like an SSN, each person can only have one CPN. It’s used as a unique identifier for your financial transactions and lets lenders and credit reporting agencies keep an eye on your borrowing history. However, a CPN can help you keep your finances safe and hidden from the public eye. For that reason, it’s popular among elected officials, celebrities and people in witness protection programs. As the name implies, it’s mostly used by people who need a little extra privacy. A CPN isn’t always a substitute for an SSN, though: You can’t use it for documents submitted to the IRS or an employer, registering a vehicle or applying for a government loan, for instance. If you have a CPN, it’s on you to know when you can and can’t use it.