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The Credit Privacy Number, or CPN, is a nine digit identification number that can be used to report financial information to credit bureaus. Available for use primarily in the United States, the number can be used instead of an individual’s Social Security number for many types of credit transactions. However, the CPN should not be viewed as an equitable substitute for the Social Security number in all situations.
Also known as a credit profile number, the CPN has its main advantage when it comes to tracking credit transactions and evaluating credit history. Rather than using a Social Security number for all credit transactions, using a credit privacy number makes it easier to segregate finances in the event of identity theft. Without access to a Social Security number, the thief is somewhat limited in the amount of difficulties that are created for the rightful owner of the number. This is because there are several types of financial transactions that cannot be conducted using this number.
Transactions that cannot be conducted using a CPN include information given to an employer, documents submitted to the Internal Revenue Service, and registering a car or truck. The number also cannot be used when applying for one of the several government sponsored home loan options, such as Sallie Mae or a FHA loan. However, a legal CPN can be used when applying for credit cards and obtaining financing that is not government related.
One of the urban myths surrounding the use of a CPN is that the credit file number can be used to avoid paying outstanding debt. In fact, the individual remains liable for all debts incurred on credit accounts referencing a Social Security number or a CPN. Obtaining this number will not result in establishing new credit to replace bad credit generated under a Social Security number.
One truth about CPN usage is that there are many citizens of the United States that routinely use this type of identification number. Celebrities often use one as a means of protecting their privacy when it comes to credit cards, loans, and other financial transactions. Members of Congress are also likely to use it in order to minimize the chances of private details about their finances being released to the general public without their authorization. People placed within a witness protection program are often issued a CPN, as it is much harder to track than a Social Security number.
Any citizen of the United States can request and obtain one of these numbers. However, it is only possible to receive one CPN. Certain resident aliens, spouses, or dependents can also apply for one if they have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The number remains constant from the date of issue and is connected with the owner of the number for the remainder of his or her life. As with a Social Security number, the owner is responsible for using the CPN with prudence. This means knowing what type of transactions require use of a Social Security number and which transactions may be conducted using a CPN.
In the event of a bankruptcy, any outstanding debts listed under an issued CPN number and the individual’s Social Security number must be declared in order to be included in the debt relief.