Did you get a copy of your credit report, only to find that there’s a strange abbreviation called CBNA on it? While this mystifying batch of letters does have implications for your credit score, it’s unlikely to be anything major—unless you were the victim of identity theft.
Here’s what you need to know.
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What is CBNA on my credit report?
CBNA stands for Citibank North America. Citibank, owned by the multinational financial company Citigroup, is one of the largest credit card issuers in the US.
If CBNA is showing up on your credit report, the most likely explanation is that you applied for a credit card from Citibank North America—or from a company that they’re affiliated with. As a credit card issuer, CBNA provides branded store cards for dozens of other businesses such as:
How CBNA can appear on your credit report
Below, we’ve listed some of the most common codes that CBNA can appear under if you applied for (or already have) a credit card that they issue.
- Best Buy/Citibank North America (BBY/CBNA)
- Brooks Brothers/Citibank North America (BRKSB/CBNA)
- Monro Auto Service & Tire Centers Drive Card/Citibank (MONRO-DC/CBNA)
- National Tire & Battery/Citibank North America (NTB/CBNA)
- Sears/Citibank North America (SEARS/CBNA)
- Staples/Citibank North America (STPC/CBNA)
- Shop Your Way Credit Card/Citibank North America (SYWMC/CBNA)
- The Home Depot/Citibank North America (THD/CBNA)
- AT&T Universal Card/Citibank North America (Universal CD CBNA)
- Citibank, North America/Sioux Falls (CBNA/Sioux Falls)
- Citicards Citibank North America (Citicards CBNA)
Note that the last two codes are associated with Citi’s own credit cards, not with one of their affiliate’s store cards.
Citibank North America’s other affiliates
In addition to the above, Citibank also partners with and issues credit cards for the following businesses:
- American Airlines
- L.L. Bean
Other companies named CBNA
Confusingly, several other companies share the CBNA acronym with Citibank North America. It can also refer to:
- Community Bank, North America: This is a regional bank that operates in New York, Pennsylvania, and New England. If you live in the Northeast, it’s possible you took out a credit card or loan with them and it’s showing up as CBNA on your credit report.
- Comenity Bank, North America: A Utah-based bank that mainly issues retail cards. They’re more likely to show up on your report under the acronym CB rather than CBNA, as in the case of Comenity Bank/Victoria’s Secret (CB/VICSCRT).
- Credit Bureau of North America: Unlike the others, this is a debt collection agency, not a bank. If the CBNA mark you’re seeing is associated with a delinquent (unpaid) debt rather than a credit card application, it might refer to this company, not Citibank North America.
Review your credit report carefully to make sure you understand which company the CBNA code refers to.
Is CBNA a scam?
No, CBNA isn’t a scam—Citibank North America is a legitimate organization. If their name is 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 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 CBNA might be on your credit report in more detail in the next section.
Why is CBNA on my credit report?
CBNA can appear on your credit report for a number of reasons, some negative and some harmless. Here are the four most common reasons why CBNA might appear on your credit report:
1. Citibank North America checked your credit
You’ll see CBNA on your credit report if Citibank North America ran a credit check to determine whether or not to issue you a credit card. This type of check can appear as a hard inquiry or as a soft inquiry.
- Hard inquiries: These generally appear on your credit report when you apply for new credit, such as credit cards, store cards, rewards cards, or installment loans. For example, CBNA will show up on your credit report if you actually applied for a card from Citibank North America.
- Soft inquiries: These show up on your credit report when someone checks your credit but you’re not actually looking to open a new account. For example, if you received an unsolicited offer letter in the mail for a credit card issued by Citibank North America, then they may have triggered a soft inquiry during the prequalification process.
Thankfully, soft inquiries won’t affect your credit score. Hard inquiries will usually lower your credit score by a few points, but the effect won’t last more than a year, and the inquiry will fall off your credit report entirely after two years. 1 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 Citibank North America credit account
CBNA will appear on your credit report if you currently have or previously had a Citibank North America credit account. Even if you closed your account, CBNA can stay on your credit report for 7 years (if the account was delinquent due to missed payments) or 10 years (if the account was in good standing). 2
You might find your Citibank North America 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 Citibank North America credit account
CBNA can show up on your credit report if someone else added you as an authorized user to their own Citibank North America 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 Citibank North America credit account, their activities on the account could affect your credit score. 3
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 see a small 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 CBNA hard inquiry on your credit report but you’re sure you didn’t apply for a Citibank North America credit account, it could be a sign of identity theft.
If you suspect that someone’s trying to fraudulently open accounts in your name, take these steps:
- Contact the company that made the hard inquiry (Citibank North America). 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. 4
Carefully monitor your credit reports over the next few months for further signs of fraudulent activity.
How does CBNA affect my credit score?
There are several ways that CBNA can affect your credit score, depending on whether it’s been reported as an inquiry or an account.
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 Citibank North America account on your credit report, then it’s contributing to your credit score by influencing the following factors:
How to remove CBNA from my credit report
If you want to delete CBNA from your credit report, then try one of the following approaches.
1. Send a dispute letter
If you see an item listed under CBNA on your credit report that you suspect is a mistake, then you can dispute it by sending a dispute letter to Citibank North America and/or the credit bureaus.
Send your letter to Citibank North America if you believe the error originated with them (e.g., they reported a late payment when you actually paid on time). Send it to the credit bureaus if you believe they made the mistake (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 Citibank North America). 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 dispute, the credit bureau will be required to investigate and correct any inaccurate information on your report, usually within 30–45 days. 7
2. Use a credit repair company
A credit repair company will act as a middleman between yourself and your creditors (and the credit bureaus). They might be able to get a hard inquiry or other CBNA item off your credit report by helping you gather evidence and handling all the required communication.
However, be wary of scammers. By law, credit repair companies are not allowed to charge you before they’ve helped you. 8 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 CBNA off your credit report.