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March 11, 2021

Avoid These Credit Repair Scams: “Credit Cleaning” Using CPNs is Fraud

If you’re looking to build (or rebuild) your credit history, you might be on the lookout for advice about how to improve your credit score. You may even seek the paid services of a credit repair company. While there are indeed several things you can do to raise your credit score, most of the time, these fixes take time and consistency, so a company advertising a quick fix to your score may be looking to take advantage. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning about scams targeting consumers with credit troubles. Be wary of these credit repair scams.

“New credit identity”? That’s fraud.

If a company operates by helping you hide poor credit history or past negative events, like bankruptcy, they may be running a credit repair scam based on fraud and identity theft.

Here’s how the scam goes:

They claim they can wipe out your past mistakes, and they may even lie and tell you it’s above-the-board and legal. They say they’ll provide you with a nine-digit number, a Credit Profile Number (CPN), that will function as a new Social Security number to help you hide your credit history. Or, they’ll have you apply for a new Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS and tell you to use that or the CPN when applying for new credit. So, what’s happening here? Identity theft.

These companies are selling stolen Social Security numbers, often stolen from children, according to the FTC. When you use a stolen number, you’d be involved in identity theft, and any attempt to misrepresent your credit history or provide untrue information on credit applications is fraud. By partaking in such activities, you’d risk prosecution for these crimes.

Big red flags: spotting a scam

At this point, you might be wondering, “How can I tell if credit assistance services are real or a scam?”

Here are a few ways to spot a fraudulent credit repair company:

  • They claim to provide an overnight boost to your credit score, especially if they ask you to pay for it. Credit scores cannot be “repaired” or “boosted” overnight.
  • They tell you to dispute accurate and true information on your credit report.
  • They advise you not to contact the credit reporting companies or your financial institution directly.
  • They advise you to give false information on loan or credit applications.
  • They neglect to explain your legal rights to you when they describe their services.
  • They say they’ll provide a new social security number, a CPN or other nine-digit identification number to use instead of your own Social Security number.

Your credit rights

When it comes to credit repair, the Credit Repair Organization Act (CROA) provides protection for consumers seeking credit repair services. CROA makes it illegal for credit repair companies to lie or misrepresent the scope of their services or to charge you prior to completing the service. According to the FTC, this law requires credit repair companies to explain:

  • Your legal rights in a written contract that details the services they’ll complete
  • Your right to cancel within three days without any charge
  • The projected timeline to see results
  • The total cost you will pay
  • Any guarantees

Do you believe you’ve been a victim of credit repair fraud or a credit repair scam?

File a complaint online at ftc.gov/complaint or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.


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