CPNs? Credit Profile Numbers? Credit Privacy Numbers?
Let’s just put it out there…
Here’s what you’re thinking:
I want a second chance at credit! I want to get a new social security number called a credit profile number or CPN because I screwed up my last one. I then want to add new tradelines of credit to create an awesome credit score. Again, I just want to start fresh!
If that sounds like you, you’re on the right page. And, there’s an awesome video, below.
The only thing worse than having no rights is exercising rights you don’t have. This is especially true when that exercise results in breaking a law. That is the risk you run when messing with CPNs.
Here’s a truth no one wants to admit. Ready?
No one understands CPNs.
100% of those interested in CPNs (whether to sell or to add tradelines to) merely recite things they’ve read online. The source of the information is usually someone else that read something online. The echo chamber has yet to produce anything that supports the concept of secondary credit.
If you truly want to understand CPNs, read on.
Good news, bad news of CPNs.
- The bad news: Credit profile numbers (or “CPNs”) do not exist. It is not a real thing. This fact applies to all of the synonyms for CPNs, such as secondary credit numbers (SCNs), credit privacy numbers (also CPNs), etc. They don’t exist. You will likely break the law just trying to obtain one and you will absolutely break the law if you ever try to use one. I will prove this to you, below.
- The good news: You don’t need a CPN. People run from their past rather than deal with it. If you’ve really screwed up your credit and you are drowning in debt, there are options, such as bankruptcy. You can recover from bankruptcy very quickly. If your credit isn’t that bad, then there are even easier options to recover from bad credit.
What is this page about?
There is misinformation about so-called CPNs. There are two ways that we can address them.
- NOT A GOOD IDEA: We could just search the internet for all of the arguments for them and then argue against those arguments. However, that didn’t seem to work the last time we did it. People, when faced with a choice, will resort to their own beliefs (rather than facts).
- GREAT IDEA: We will show you the origin of the myth of credit privacy numbers so that you can see for yourself how the law actually functions. When you understand this, you will understand why CPNs don’t exist.
Also, you will understand that trying to obtain a credit profile number (or secondary credit number) is likely illegal and using it is definitely illegal.
Finally, we will show you very simple solutions to credit problems so as to avoid the wasted time, effort and potential legal exposure associated with getting a credit privacy number (or whatever you want to call it).
Where did the CPN stuff originate?
There is a law called the privacy act of 1974. Also, there is a pervasive misunderstanding of it.
Here’s what people say the law says:
“The privacy act of 1974 says you do not have to provide your social security number and gives you a right to a credit privacy number, just like all the celebrities and rich people.”
Here’s the text of the law to which they’re referring:
“It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual’s refusal to disclose his social security account number.”
See. Public Law 93-579, as codified at 5 U.S.C. 552a. If you want to read it, here it is:Public Law 93-579, as codified at 5 U.S.C. 552a
A civics quicky:
Hang in there with me for a second.
The government primarily does not grant you rights as to others. It grants you rights as to the government. Meaning, most rights granted by the government are essentially a limitation on the government’s ability to disturb your freedom.
If you want to take it one step further… Technically, the government isn’t “granting” your rights. They’re essentially saying “you’re already free to do these things and we promise not to change that fact.”
Keep reading and I promise I’ll tie this all together.
Rights, in a way, are not permissions given to you by the government. Instead, rights, in a way, are promises that the government will not interfere with your pre-existing freedoms.
For example, your First Amendment right to free speech prevents the government from censoring you (among other things). It does not prevent a private company (like Twitter or Facebook) from censoring you on their platform.
You don’t have “free speech” to walk into a restaurant and start screaming against the wishes of the owner, who, ironically, can use the power of the government to trespass you and kick you off of their property.
Here’s the point (and the most important thing you need to understand):
Congress enacted the Privacy Act to prevent the government (not private individuals or corporations, such as a bank) from abusing the collection and use of your private information.
The Privacy Act does not apply to private, non-governmental transactions. Recall that the law applies to and limits “any Federal, State or local government agency.”
James B. Lockhart, the Deputy Commissioner For Social Security, testified in Congress and stated:
“Currently, there are no restrictions in Federal law on the use of the SSN by the private sector. Businesses may ask for a customer’s SSN for such things as renting a video, applying for credit cards, obtaining medical services, and applying for public utilities. Customers may refuse to provide the number, however, the business may, in turn, decline to furnish the product or service.”
Here’s how to understand it.
In testimony before Congress about this very issue, many examples of the Privacy Act were shown. One of those examples is your right to vote. The State of Virginia tried to require the collection of social security numbers as a condition of voting eligibility.
The Court struck this down, because (now look back at the law):
It is unlawful for a State (i.e., Virginia, i.e., the government, i.e., not a private citizen or corporation, such as a bank) to deny any individual’s right (i.e., the right to vote) for such individual’s failure to provide his social security number.
Not relevant, but worth a mention.
We now know that the Privacy Act of 1974 only applies when the government is requesting your social security number. Even so, in some circumstances – which are not relevant here – the government can require that you provide them your social security number.
Here’s where the CPN theories die.
This is the best way to reword the law so it makes sense, in natural, human, everyday language:
“You lose no rights by failing to provide your social security number.”
- The privacy act does not apply to private transactions, such as borrowing money from a private lending institution.
- You have no right, benefit or privilege to a loan from a private lending institution.
- When a bank asks for your social security number, you must give it, otherwise;
- The bank can deny your loan if you fail to give your social security number.
- If the bank asks for your social security number you provide something else, you lied.
- If you lie on a loan application, that’s bank fraud.
POP QUIZ: Where is the application for a CPN?
You have applications for:
- Social Security Numbers (SSN)
- Employer Identification Numbers (EIN)
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN)
- Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions (ATIN)
- Preparer Taxpayer Identification Numbers (PTIN)
NOTE: We just wrote an article regarding the inability to establish credit with an ITIN.
Where is the application for a CPN?
There isn’t one.
Because CPNs don’t exist.
If CPNs don’t exist (legally), how are they created (illegally)?
There are primarily two ways to create a secondary credit number and call it a CPN: Synthetic identity fraud (where you make up fake information that doesn’t already exist) and identity theft (where you use information that belongs to someone else).
Synthetic identity fraud.
Some people go on to argue that identity theft and synthetic identity theft are not the same as using a credit profile number. Well, the Department of Justice does not agree. They recently announced the arrest of an individual for using precisely that: a “credit profile number.”
The most ironic thing about the credit profile number shenanigans is that it relies on a law which was designed to prevent this very thing.
Remember the voting rights case discussed above? Look at the court’s reasoning:
“Since the passage of the Privacy Act, an individual’s concern over his SSN’s confidentiality and misuse has become significantly more compelling. For example, armed with one’s SSN, an unscrupulous individual could obtain a person’s welfare benefits or Social Security benefits, order new checks at a new address on that person’s checking account, obtain credit cards, or even obtain the person’s paycheck. . . . . Succinctly stated, the harm that can be inflicted from the disclosure of an SSN to an unscrupulous individual is alarming and potentially financially ruinous.”
The court is talking about why it is important that the government keep SSNs private. I.e., to prevent, among other things, identity theft. In that case, had the State prevailed, the Social Security Numbers of the voters would have been made publically available.
The main purpose of the Privacy Act is to ensure that your social security number remains private so that others cannot commit identity theft with it.
Instead, however, there are people all over the internet advocating CPNs, which – in most cases – is the procurement of someone else’s social security number. They’re taking a law designed to prevent identity theft and using it to justify identity theft.
Do you think CPNs could become legal in the future?
Actually, yes. It is possible.
In the congressional testimony mentioned above, it is clear that consumer rights advocates are actively trying to change the law. They want the Privacy Act to apply to everyone, not just the government. In other words, they want the Privacy Act to apply even in commercial transactions.
In their testimony, they specifically recommended:
“Penalize the fraudulent use of another person’s SSN but not the use of an SSN that is not associated with an actual individual. This would permit, for example, a person to provide a number such as “123-00-6789″ where there is no intent to commit fraud.”
They justified this recommendation, because:
“…consumers in the commercial sphere often face the choice of giving up their privacy, their SSN, to obtain a service or product. The drafters of the 1974 law tried to prevent citizens from facing such unfair choices, particularly in the context of government services. But there is no reason that this principle could not apply equally to the private sector, and that was clearly the intent of the authors of the 1973 report.”
This, to me, sounds like what the current CPN proponents are saying.
Here’s the problem: It’s not currently the law.
Currently, the law prohibits so-called CPNs.
Arguments made and facts to consider about CPNs.
1) What’s the actual violation of the law?
The first thing CPN advocates say is:
“CPNs are legal because there’s no law making them illegal.”
This is a very basic fallacy. Think about all the ways there are to murder someone. Do you think murder is legal if you do it creatively?
Can you find a law that says you can’t throw someone out of a plane? Since you can’t find a law making that illegal, that must be legal, right? Of course not. You would have deliberately caused the death of someone else, which is murder.
In the same way, laws against fraud do not (and do not have to) encompass every detail of a fraud’s scheme.
Most fraud laws are catch-alls.
So what laws prohibit the CPN scheme? Here’s some to name a few:
- 18 U.S.C. § § 1001, 1010 (HUD and Federal Housing Administration Transactions)
- 18 U.S.C. § 1014 (Loan and credit applications generally)
- 18 U.S.C. § 1028 (Fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents)
- 18 U.S.C. § 1341 (Frauds and swindles by Mail)
- 18 U.S.C. § 1342 (Fictitious name or address)
- 18 U.S.C. § 1343 (Fraud by wire)
- 18 U.S.C. § 1344 (Bank Fraud)
- 42 U.S.C. § 408(a) (false social security number).
You could potentially commit tax evasion, too. Why? Because if you have income on two different social security numbers, you could potentially offset your tax bracket, illegally, by splitting your income over two different numbers.
2) I am permitted to provide something other than my social security number.
CPN advocates claim, through an impressive logical leap, that:
“You are not required to provide your social security number, so it’s not fraud when a bank asks for it and I provide something slse.”
First of all, this argument relies on the Privacy Act. However, this is absolutely not what the law says. The law says you don’t have to give your social security number to a government agency (except for a few circumstances). You have absolutely no right like this when contracting with a private individual or company.
You can absolutely not give your social security number to a private entity. In exchange, the private entity can refuse to work with you.
Let’s say you did have a right to not provide your social security number (which you don’t):
Where in this law does it say you can create and provide a number other than your social security number?
3) I am entitled to a CPN to protect myself from identity theft.
More arguments go like this:
“I want to protect my identity by having a separate and secret CPN other than my SSN.”
The craziest part about this identity theft argument is that obtaining a CPN is usually identity theft in and of itself. So, they’re saying “I can commit aggravated identity theft using someone else’s social security number just in case someone else commits aggravated identity theft against my social security number.”
In addition, if someone can steal your social security number, why can’t they steal your credit privacy number?
You have no such right and, even if you did, it is logically flawed and ineffective.
What to do instead of CPNs.
We can’t speak for the motives of those selling CPNs. Some may be good people that simply misunderstand what they’re doing. Others may have full command over the fraud they’re committing.
What is for sure: If you get a CPN, you are victimizing yourself. You now know better.
What’s more: There are alternatives.
I know of no person in human history who’s credit and financial situation cannot be solved (unless you’re talking about backward societies with debtor jails). In the United States, there are all sorts of laws and private entities capable of helping you.
- There’s credit repair.
- There’s debt settlement.
- There’s bankruptcy.
- There’s a huge list of consumer protection laws.
- There are tradelines.
The CPN challenge.
Call us. See if we can propose a solution for your current situation.
Without a doubt, we will provide a better way than CPNs.
We look forward to working for you and watching you reach your credit potential.