Ordering your credit report and studying its details probably wasn’t on your list of fun activities for 2023, and seeing a concerning abbreviation like SYWMC/CBNA on it likely didn’t make it any less dreary.
But if SYWMC/CBNA has you worried, try to relax. While it has an impact on your credit score, it’s not a derogatory mark you should be overly concerned about.
Here’s what you need to understand about SYWMC/CBNA.
Table of Contents
What is SYWMC/CBNA?
SYWMC/CBNA stands for Shop Your Way Credit Card/Citibank North America.
Citibank, a subdivision of Citigroup and one of the largest banks in the US, offers private-label credit cards as one of their financial services. They partner with Sears to provide the Sears store card and Shop Your Way Mastercard.
If you see SYWMC/CBNA on your credit report, you probably applied for or already have a Shop Your Way Mastercard.
SYWMC/CBNA may also appear on your credit report in the following ways:
- SYWMC CBNA
- SYW MC/CBNA
Citibank’s other affiliates
If Citibank North America (CBNA) appears on your credit report but you didn’t apply for a Shop Your Way Mastercard, then you may have an account with another Citibank affiliate. As the world’s largest credit card issuer and one of the main providers of retail credit services, Citibank partners with companies across a wide variety of industries. 3
Here are some of Citibank’s affiliates: 4
- The Home Depot
- Best Buy
- American Airlines
- L. Bean
If you see items on your credit report labeled CBNA, it means you probably applied for or currently have a line of credit with one of Citibank’s affiliates.
Is SYWMC/CBNA a scam?
No, SYWMC/CBNA isn’t a scam—Citibank 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 SYWMC/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 SYWMC/CBNA might be on your credit report in more detail in the next section.
Why is SYWMC/CBNA on my credit report?
SYWMC/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 SYWMC/CBNA might appear on your credit report:
1. Citibank checked your credit
You’ll see SYWMC/CBNA on your credit report if Citibank 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, SYWMC/CBNA will show up on your credit report if you actually applied for a card from Citibank.
- 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, 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. 5 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 credit account
SYWMC/CBNA will appear on your credit report if you currently have or previously had a Citibank credit account. Even if you closed your account, SYWMC/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). 6
You might find your Citibank 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 credit account
SYWMC/CBNA can show up on your credit report if someone else added you as an authorized user to their own Citibank 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 credit account, their activities on the account could affect your credit score. 7
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 SYWMC/CBNA hard inquiry on your credit report but you’re sure you didn’t apply for a Citibank 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). 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. 8
Carefully monitor your credit reports over the next few months for further signs of fraudulent activity.
How does SYWMC/CBNA affect my credit score?
There are several ways that SYWMC/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 account on your credit report, then it’s contributing to your credit score by influencing the following factors:
How to remove SYWMC/CBNA from my credit report
If you want to delete SYWMC/CBNA from your credit report, then try one of the following approaches.
1. Send a dispute letter
If you see an item listed under SYWMC/CBNA on your credit report that you suspect is a mistake, then you can dispute it by sending a dispute letter to Citibank and/or the credit bureaus.
Send your letter to Citibank 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). 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. 11
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 SYWMC/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. 12 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 SYWMC/CBNA off your credit report.