After the Equifax data breach hit in early September, many consumer watchdogs including the Federal Trade Commission advocated that consumers consider putting a freeze on their credit report, if they felt their Social Security number and other data had been compromised. But freezing credit will mean that you won’t be able to obtain ant type of loan. Instead of freezing credit you should consider 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.