Why Is CBNA on Your Credit Report? Learn What It Means

It’s always alarming when you see an account you don’t recognize on your credit report — particularly when a balance is listed.

Many panic when they see an entry for CBNA because they don’t know what it means. But it’s rarely cause for concern.

Key Points

  • CBNA usually stands for Citibank North America
  • It could also mean Credit Bureau of North America
  • Community Bank, Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank are all financial institutions that are sometimes abbreviated as CBNA on your credit reports
  • It could be a store-branded card issued through a partnership with Citi
  • A creditor may have run a soft inquiry without your knowledge
  • If none of the above apply, you could be a victim of identity theft

CBNA on Your Credit Report Usually Means Citibank

Credit reports can be full of acronyms you may not recognize. This can be worrisome when you get a notice about an account and it’s completely unfamiliar.

CBNA is a common acronym for Citibank North America. It appears on your credit report when applying for or becoming an authorized user on a new Citi credit card account.

Citibank North America is the fourth-largest credit card issuer in the United States. The bank’s affiliate partners also issue Citi cards. For instance, when you see on your credit report BBY/CBNA, it stands for Best Buy/Citibank North America. In this case, Citi partners with Best Buy to issue a store credit card.

Citibank has an extensive line of Citi-branded credit cards. Double Cash, Simplicity, and Premier are some of the most well-known. If you have used or applied for one of these cards, it will appear on your credit report. If you have not, you will want to contact Citibank immediately. You can reach them by phone at (800) 950-5114.

Citi also offers other types of loans, including auto loans and personal loans, which also could appear on your credit reports as CBNA.

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a Citi credit card?
  • Have you applied for a Citi card? 
  • Has a family member added you as an authorized user to a Citi credit card account?
  • Have you applied for a new loan, like a car loan or a store-branded credit card?
  • Could your identity have been stolen?
  • Have I opened a retailer account recently that might be working with Citibank?

These are the most likely reasons CBNA would appear on your credit report. If none of these apply to you, CBNA can represent several other things.

Don’t Have a Citi Account? CBNA Has a Few Other Meanings

Though Citibank is the most common reason behind a CBNA entry, there are several other possible meanings.

If you don’t have a Citi loan or credit card, here are some of the other reasons it might appear on credit reports:

It Could Be a Third-Party Debt Collector

Credit Bureau of North America is a third-party debt collector that can appear on your credit report as CBNA. If you see this on your credit report, a creditor may have sent a past-due account into collections. This will also cause your credit score to decrease.

CBNA Could Represent Another Financial Institution

Community Bank, Comenity Bank, and Comenity Capital Bank are all financial institutions that offer loans and credit cards. If you have an account with one of these lenders, it may be abbreviated as CBNA on your report.

Pro tip: Community Bank N.A. is only available to people who live in Upstate New York, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Massachusetts. If it is noted on your credit report and you don’t live in one of these areas, please get in touch with the bank directly at cbna.com. You may be a victim of identity theft.

READ MORE: Why did my credit score drop?

THD/CBNA Could Refer to a Best Buy or Home Depot Credit Card

Home Depot and several other prominent retailers partner with Citi as the lender for their store-branded credit cards. Some partners include Wayfair, Overstock, Sears, Macy’s, Tractor Supply Co. and Costco.

If you have a store-branded card from a Citibank retail partner, it will likely be prefixed by a code for the associated retailer. For example, BBY stands for Best Buy, and THD refers to the Home Depot credit card.

READ MORE: How to get a free credit score

Have You Been a Victim of Identity Theft?

If items on your credit report are not accounts you have created or are responsible for, you may be a victim of identity theft. You can use a free credit monitoring service (like Credit Karma) to track accounts on your credit report and receive fraud alerts when questionable items are added to your information.

You have the right to dispute any fraudulent accounts or close the accounts you believe have been tampered with. Review copies of your credit reports (you can download them for free at annualcreditreport.com) and place a security freeze on your credit, so that no new accounts can be opened. Several companies offer a credit lock, helping protect you against identity theft and unwanted credit activity. You are notified in real-time if any of these activities happen.

Pro tip: When you lock your credit report, banks and lenders can’t access your credit for a loan application. Utility companies, landlords, mobile phone services, potential employers and insurance companies cannot access your report. Companies with existing relationships with you, collection agencies, government agencies, and companies with pre-screened credit card offers cannot access your file. If your account is locked and you want to apply for a new credit card or would like a prospective landlord or new utility company to have access to your credit report, you will need to contact one of the credit bureaus to unlock it.

If someone has gotten access to your Social Security number or you have unauthorized inquiries on your report, you can file a police report and contact the credit bureaus.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has guidelines for victims of identity theft via collection agencies, credit card companies, or unauthorized inquiries on their credit reports.

CBNA May Simply Note a Hard or Soft Inquiry

Even if none of the above apply, you may still see CBNA on your credit reports. That’s because your credit report includes a list of all creditors that have accessed your credit file to assess your creditworthiness — usually without your knowledge.

There are two types of inquiries. One is a “soft” inquiry or “soft credit pull,” which happens when you or someone you have authorized checks your credit report to preapprove you for an offer.

Pro tip: Before those unsolicited ads, letters and emails promising preapproval for Citi credit cards are sent, Citibank runs a “soft” credit pull. It will not hurt your credit score but will be listed on your credit reports.

The other is a “hard” inquiry or “hard credit pull,” which happens when you apply for a new line of credit.

Soft inquiries don’t affect your credit scores, while hard credit inquiries will have a small, short-term effect, usually lowering your FICO score by up to five points and your VantageScore by as much as ten points.

Pro tip: Hard inquiries stay on your credit report for two years, regardless of whether or not you’re approved for the card, so it’s possible you may have applied for new credit from one of the CBNA institutions at some point and perhaps don’t remember.

Get a Free Copy of Your Credit Report and Review It

Americans are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every 12 months. They can be accessed at annualcreditreport.com. Though it won’t include your credit score, there are many free ways to learn it. It’s essential to regularly review your credit reports to ensure there are no errors or unfamiliar accounts.

Pro tip: Avoid services that charge you for a copy of your credit report or credit score. Many services try to exploit people who don’t realize that both are widely available for free.

READ MORE: How to get a free credit report

Can I Remove CBNA from my Credit Report? 

If the CBNA entry on your credit report is accurate, it is unlikely that you’ll succeed when trying to remove it.

If you applied for a Citi card or loan or agreed to be an authorized user on someone else’s account, then the entry on your report is legitimate.

Pro tip: If you want to remove a legitimate CBNA account from credit reports, the only real chance of success is to contact the company directly to negotiate a payment plan (or DIY debt settlement). Once you’ve successfully repaid any payment agreement, the account will be noted as “paid” or “settled” on your credit report.

You should take swift action if you haven’t applied for a Citi account and CBNA is on your credit report. It could mean someone has stolen your identity.

If you believe the item is on your credit report by error or fraud has occurred, take the following steps:

  • Dispute it
  • Monitor your credit reports
  • Hire a credit repair company

Pro tip: You can also contact the creditor listed on your report to request that they provide proof that you approved this inquiry. If you have been a victim of identity theft, report and document it with the correct agencies. 

Here’s how to contact them:

READ MORE: How to build credit

The Bottom Line

Understanding your credit is as essential as knowing what’s in your credit report. Credit reports can include a mind-boggling amount of unfamiliar acronyms and industry jargon. Knowing who your creditors are and what the entries on your credit report mean can make a massive difference in spotting fraudulent activity and detecting errors and items to dispute. Plus, it may help you save money in the long run by helping you maintain a high credit score.

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