A credit privacy number – or CPN – is a nine-digit number that resembles a social security number. These numbers are marketed to consumers with bad credit or those who want to hide their identity on applications that require your social security number.
Be aware that there are CPN scams that will sell you someone else’s social security number obtained through fraudulent means. Plus, it is illegal to use a CPN on a loan or other credit applications to obtain funds. But CPNs themselves are not illegal and can be used in specific scenarios where the purchaser wants to hide their identity, such as renting an apartment.
1. Contact the Property You Want to Apply To
First, you should call the landlord or property manager of the building you’re interested in and ask whether or not they require a credit check and accept CPNs. Not every landlord will accept a CPN, and it is illegal to use the number deceptively. But some will be open to the scenario if you’ve established credit on the CPN. So, you should call to make sure before you apply.
2. Fill Out the Application
Next, you will fill out the apartment application the same way you would when applying for an apartment. But, instead of using your social security number, you will provide your CPN. When you use a CPN, the rental company will not be able to see your past credit history. But you should let them know that you are using a CPN before you apply, so they don’t suspect something fishy and reject your application,
3. Show 2 Years of Rental History
Instead of an actual credit report, the landlord will likely ask you for some kind of proof that you are a responsible tenant who can pay your bills on time. You can do so by providing two years of rental history. Your rental history includes your previous lease agreements, a letter or notarized affidavit from your landlord, and receipts or bank records showing that you paid on time each month.
4. Pay Attention to Employment Requirements
Next, you should carefully read the employment requirements and make sure that you present the proper documents. Gather essential documents such as your pay stubs, W-2s, bank statements, tax returns, and anything else that may help prove your income.
5. Present Correct Pay Stubs
Your paystubs will be the most important document to present to the landlord. Without a proper credit report, the landlord will focus more on your income to prove that you can afford the unit. Your paystubs will prove that you are gainfully employed and have enough income to afford the apartment.
The purpose of using a CPN when applying for an apartment is either for privacy reasons or to avoid scrutiny for a blemish on your record, such as a bankruptcy or a foreclosure. Many people go through financial difficulties and need time to re-establish their credit after challenging situations. But having a major judgment on your credit report can make it difficult to obtain housing. CPNs can be used as a way to obscure this past indiscretion and force the landlord to focus solely on your current income and rental history. But they must be used correctly and with discretion to avoid breaking the law.
While using a CPN to obtain an apartment is legal, you must proceed with caution to avoid getting scammed or committing fraud. Using a CPN number deceptively or in place of a social security number is illegal and can even result in jail time, so it's essential to do your research on any company offering a CPN program and be upfront that you are using a CPN for privacy purposes. If the landlord is not open to that arrangement, it’s better to find one who is than to risk being accused of deception.
If possible, it may be better to rebuild your personal credit by paying bills on time and staying on top of your finances. But, a CPN can be a viable alternative to help you find a place to live in the meantime.