What is a CPN and how to protect your apartment community

With residential fraud at an all-time high, multifamily communities should be keeping their eyes opened for prospects applying with a CPN.

Background checks and credit history reports are part of resident screening processes meant to help property managers find qualified renters in a wide pool of applicants. But fraudsters could be slipping past your community’s guardrails with a CPN, a fraudulent number used by potentially unqualified prospects to trick one of the most important aspects of the application process. But what is a CPN really, and why does it mean trouble for a residential community? Let’s take a look.

What is a CPN?

A Credit Privacy Number (CPN) is advertised as a nine digit number that can be used in lieu of a Social Security Number (SSN) when filling out applications for a loan, lease, or any other purchase that requires a credit check. According to companies that provide these numbers, buying a CPN is akin to buying a “clean slate” for your credit history. In reality, CPNs are linked to real SSNs that have been exposed in data breaches and made accessible through an online black market. Those numbers are bought by dealers who can scrub the SSNs and open new lines of credit for the sole purpose of racking up a respectable score for a buyer to claim as their own.

If this is starting to sound a bit like a dishonest and illegal practice, you’re not wrong.

Using a CPN in place of an SSN in a financial transaction is against the law in the United States as CPNs are directly tied to identity theft. Presenting a CPN in lieu of an SSN is a deceptive tactic made to trick a seller into believing the buyer is someone they are not.

Who actually gets hurt by a CPN?

While this practice is inherently duplicitous, it’s important to remember that everyone involved in the use of CPNs at risk. The creation of CPNs makes financial victims out of unsuspecting people whose SSNs have been stolen. Any multifamily property that admits an applicant using a CPN into their community is at risk, as the renter is not who they’ve presented themselves to be. And regardless of how the service has been advertised to them, whether as a clean slate for one’s credit history or quick fix for bad credit, unsuspecting CPN buyers could end up breaking the law, resulting in fines or even jail time. The people selling CPNs are likely also offering additional illegal services, such as fake pay stubs and other forged documentation.

Managing risk at your multifamily property

CPNs are bad for everyone, so how can your property mitigate the risk of fraud during the application process? One of the best ways to defend against CPNs is by utilizing a suite of risk management solutions that includes ID verification, screening, and renters insurance programs designed to keep you, your residents, and your property safe.

With technology that’s easy to use and readily available, fraudulent prospects are harder to spot than ever before, but innovative and comprehensive resident screening services will help your property avoid unnecessary costs associated with turning an apartment or even evictions. These solutions enable your property to efficiently identify qualified prospects instead of wasting time on unqualified leads. Learn how to protect your multifamily business from fraud.

Case Studies

Sares Regis Group protects communities and stakeholders with ID verification

Founded in 1993, Sares Regis Group offers vertically integrated asset management. They draw on over 30 years of real estate experience to build, market, manage, and maintain communities that remain attractive to customers while ensuring top performance for owners.  Business Challenge: SRG management were seeing abnormally high rates of bad debt at three properties in … Continued

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