Many advanced applications of diamond materials are now being limited by unknown surface defects, including in the fields of high power/frequency electronics and quantum computing and quantum sensing. Of acute interest to diamond researchers worldwide is the loss of quantum coherence in near-surface nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers and the generation of associated magnetic noise at the diamond surface. Here for the first time is presented the observation of a family of primal diamond surface defects, which is suggested as the leading cause of band-bending and Fermi-pinning phenomena in diamond devices. A combination of density functional theory and synchrotron-based X-ray absorption spectroscopy is used to show that these defects introduce low-lying electronic trap states. The effect of these states is modeled on band-bending into the diamond bulk and it is shown that the properties of the important NV defect centers are affected by these defects. Due to the paramount importance of near-surface NV center properties in a growing number of fields, the density of these defects is further quantified at the surface of a variety of differently-treated device surfaces, consistent with best-practice processing techniques in the literature. The identification and characterization of these defects has wide-ranging implications for diamond devices across many fields.