Protect Your Credit Score

Equifax, one of the three major US credit bureaus, reported a security breach that may have compromised 143 million customers personal data, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers. Equifax found out about the hack on July 29, according to the company, despite announcing it 40 days later. The incident is one of the largest and most threatening cyber attacks that has occurred in recent years and is the third major attack on the company since 2015. You need to protect your credit score.

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. A CPN will protect your credit score. 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.