BRKSB/CBNA represents either a credit check or an account (such as a credit card) on your credit report. It’s not a cause for major concern unless it’s there by mistake, though it does have some effect on your credit score.
Here’s how BRKSB/CBNA is impacting your credit score and if you need to take action to counteract it.
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What is BRKSB/CBNA on my credit report?
BRKSB/CBNA stands for Brooks Brothers/Citibank, North America.
Citibank currently issues the Brooks Card (a store card) and the Brooks Brothers Platinum Mastercard.
If you see BRKSB/CBNA on your credit report, you probably applied for a Brooks Brothers credit card.
How BRKSB/CBNA may have appeared on your report in the past
Because Brooks Brothers was previously affiliated with Synchrony Financial, if you had a credit account with them before 2015, this mark might have appeared on your credit report under the acronym SYNCB (which stands for Synchrony Bank). Current credit accounts should always appear under the CBNA acronym.
Citibank’s other affiliates
If Citibank North America (CBNA) appears on your credit report but you don’t have (and haven’t applied for) a Brooks Brothers card, then you likely have an account with another Citibank affiliate (or with Citi themselves, in which case you might see Citicards CBNA on your credit report).
As one of the nation’s largest providers of private-label and co-branded credit cards, Citibank partners with dozens of businesses to offer their store cards. 3
Is BRKSB/CBNA a scam?
No, BRKSB/CBNA isn’t a scam. Citibank and Brooks Brothers are legitimate organizations. If they’re on your credit report, it probably indicates that you have an account with them or they checked your credit.
If you’re certain that there’s activity on your credit report under BRKSB/CBNA that shouldn’t be there, it’s possible you’ve been the victim of identity theft.
We’ll discuss the reasons (both legitimate and fraudulent) that BRKSB/CBNA might be on your credit report in more detail in the next section.
Why is BRKSB/CBNA on my credit report?
BRKSB/CBNA can appear on your credit report for a number of reasons, some negative and some harmless. It’s possible for it to show up even if you don’t have a Brooks Brothers credit account.
Here are some reasons why BRKSB/CBNA might be on your credit report:
1. Citibank checked your credit
You’ll see BRKSB/CBNA on your credit report if Citibank ran a credit check to determine whether or not to extend credit to you. This type of credit check can appear as a hard inquiry or a soft inquiry.
- Hard inquiries: These generally appear on your credit report when you apply for new credit, such as credit cards, store cards, or installment loans. For example, if you applied for a Brooks Brothers credit card, Citibank probably triggered a hard inquiry when reviewing your application.
- Soft inquiries: These show up on your credit report when someone checks your credit but you’re not actually in search of new credit. For example, if you received an unsolicited offer letter in the mail for a credit card issued by Citibank, then they may have triggered a soft inquiry during the prequalification process.
Thankfully, soft inquiries won’t affect your credit score. Hard inquiries usually lower your credit score by several points, but the effect won’t last more than a year, and the inquiry will fall off your credit report entirely after two years. Note that you usually can’t remove a hard inquiry early unless the bureau added it to your report by mistake.
2. You have a Brooks Brothers credit account
BRKSB/CBNA will appear on your credit report if you currently have or previously had a Brooks Brothers credit account. Even if you closed your account, BRKSB/CBNA can stay on your credit report for 7 years (if the account was delinquent due to missed payments) to 10 years (if the account was in good standing).
You might find your Brooks Brothers credit account marked as closed even if you never took any active steps to close it. This can happen due to account inactivity—it’s common for lenders to close credit accounts if they haven’t been used for a while.
3. You’re an authorized user on someone else’s Brooks Brothers credit account
BRKSB/CBNA can show up on your credit report if someone else added you as an authorized user to their own Brooks Brothers credit account.
You might have been named as an authorized user by your:
- Business partner
If someone designated you as an authorized user on their Brooks Brothers credit account, their activities on the account could affect your credit score.
If the primary cardholder is a responsible person and a reliable borrower, being an authorized user on their account will probably improve your credit score by helping you build a positive payment history. On the other hand, you might notice a drop in your credit score if the primary cardholder neglects their payments or cancels their account with unpaid debt.
Similarly, your use of someone else’s credit will affect their credit score, so take care when acting as an authorized user.
4. You’re a victim of identity theft
If you see a BRKSB/CBNA hard inquiry on your credit report but you’re sure you didn’t apply for a Brooks Brothers credit account, it could be a sign of identity theft.
If you think that BRKSB/CBNA is on your credit report because someone’s trying to fraudulently open accounts in your name, take these steps:
- Contact the company that made the hard inquiry (which will be Citibank, unless they hired another company to perform the inquiry for them). Tell them you didn’t authorize the inquiry. Ask them for details (i.e., when and under what circumstances their records show the inquiry was authorized).
- Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Go to www.identitytheft.gov and answer the questions to generate an identity theft report and recovery plan.
- Contact any of the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) and have a fraud alert placed on your credit report. You only need to contact one of the bureaus; they’ll coordinate with the others, and your fraud alert will be acknowledged by all three.
Carefully monitor your credit reports over the next few months for further signs of fraudulent activity.
How does BRKSB/CBNA affect my credit score?
There are several ways that BRKSB/CBNA can affect your credit score, depending on whether they triggered an inquiry or manage one of your accounts.
As mentioned, a single hard inquiry will have a small, short-term effect on your credit, usually lowering your FICO score by up to five points and your VantageScore credit score by 5–10 points.
This effect is usually cumulative, so too many hard inquiries can really hurt your score. However, a single inquiry isn’t something to worry about—your credit score ranges from 300 to 850, which means 5 points in either direction isn’t significant.
Open and closed accounts
If you have an open or closed BRKSB/CBNA account on your credit report, then it’s contributing to your credit score by influencing the following factors:
How to remove BRKSB/CBNA from my credit report
If you want to delete BRKSB/CBNA from your credit report, then try one of the following approaches.
1. Send a dispute letter
If you see an item listed under BRKSB/CBNA on your credit report that you suspect is a mistake, then you can dispute it by writing something known as a credit dispute letter.
You should send your letter to whoever you think the error originated with. You can send it to:
- Citibank: Send your letter directly to them if you believe they made the original mistake (e.g., they reported a credit check to the bureaus that you never actually authorized).
- The credit bureaus: Write to the credit bureaus if you believe the error originated witih them (e.g., they confused you with someone with a similar name or Social Security number).
Either way, it’s usually a good idea to send copies of the letter to both parties, the bureaus and your card issuer (Citibank). They may contact each other as they investigate the matter, and it’s important to make sure everybody has received the relevant information.
Once you’ve filed your credit dispute, the credit bureau will be required to investigate and correct any inaccurate information on your report, usually within 30–45 days.
2. Use a credit repair company
A credit repair company will act as a middleman between yourself and your card issuer (and the credit bureaus). They might be able to get a hard inquiry or another BRKSB/CBNA item off your credit report by helping you gather evidence and handling all the required communication.
However, be wary of scammers. There are restrictions on the cost of credit repair—by law, credit repair companies are not allowed to charge you before they’ve helped you. If they ask for payment upfront, hire a different company.
Although hiring a credit repair company can save you some time and hassle in disputing items on your credit report, bear in mind that they can’t do anything for you that you can’t do yourself.
They also won’t necessarily be able to erase valid negative information or turn a bad credit score into a good credit score overnight. Think carefully before hiring a third-party company to get BRKSB/CBNA off your credit report.