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. Also called a credit
profile number. So why use a CPN instead of an SSN, anyway? To protect yourself! Identity Fraud occurs when someone’s personal information is used to access money, identity theft occurs when personal information is accessed, even if it isn’t used for personal gain. A report from Javelin Research revealed that in 2014 fraudsters stole 16 billion from 12.7 million U.S. consumers. Identity fraud is estimated to occur every 2 seconds in this country. Much of the identity fraud happened as a result of data breaches from major retail stores.
Like an SSN, each person can only have one. 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 it 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. It 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 one, it’s on you to know when you can and can’t use it.