What is COAF and why is it on my credit report?

Man sitting outside on his steps, smiling and reading on his phone about what COAF means on his credit reports.Image: Man sitting outside on his steps, smiling and reading on his phone about what COAF means on his credit reports.

In a Nutshell

You may see COAF on your credit reports if you recently applied for a car loan with Capital One Auto Finance or applied for prequalification. It may also be showing up if you’re a co-applicant on a COAF auto loan.
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You may be seeing an inquiry on your credit reports from COAF if you recently purchased a car or applied for prequalification from Capital One Auto Finance.

You may also see it on your reports if you’re a co-applicant on an auto loan from this lender. Here’s what you need to know about COAF on your credit reports.

Why is COAF on my credit reports?

Capital One offers new, used and refinance auto loans through its auto finance arm, Capital One Auto Finance.

If you applied to COAF for your car financing needs, you’ll likely see the activity reflected on your credit reports as a credit inquiry (also known as a credit pull). You could also see COAF on your credit reports if you co-signed on an auto loan through Capital One Auto Finance.

Hard and soft inquiries

If you applied for prequalification with COAF, you’ll probably see a soft credit inquiry show up on your credit reports. Though a soft credit inquiry will appear, it won’t affect your credit scores.

If you liked the estimated auto loan terms you saw via prequalification and took a trip to a participating dealership, you may have completed your auto loan application, resulting in a hard credit pull. A hard credit inquiry can negatively impact your credit scores and can stay on your reports for about two years.

It’s possible that those final terms were less than attractive and you decided to go with a different financing option — you’ll still see one or more credit inquiries on your reports.

So even if you didn’t open an auto loan with Capital One Auto Finance, both prequalification and full application with the lender would cause “COAF” to appear on your credit reports.

If you didn’t apply for an auto loan from Capital One Auto Finance and you have a hard inquiry from COAF on your reports, you may be dealing with a case of identity theft. There are some steps you should take right away if you spot an unauthorized hard inquiry on your credit reports.


How to remove a COAF hard inquiry

If you suspect that there is an incorrect hard credit inquiry on your reports, you have a right to dispute it with the major consumer credit bureaus that have reported it. Once you file your dispute, the bureaus are obligated to investigate and correct any information they identify as inaccurate.

You’re a co-applicant on a COAF auto loan

Capital One Auto Finance allows you to apply for a car loan with a co-applicant. This can come in handy if you have less-than-stellar credit and your co-applicant has a stronger credit history.

If you agreed to be a co-applicant on a COAF auto loan, you can expect to see the inquiries on your credit reports. Keep in mind that being a co-applicant can affect your credit, too.

What to do if there’s an account you don’t recognize on your credit reports

Seeing COAF show up unexpectedly on your credit reports could be confusing and stressful. Once you understand that COAF is Capital One Auto Finance, it might ease your mind, assuming you recently applied for a car loan through COAF.

But if you didn’t, and you believe COAF on your credit report is an error — or, worse, it was an unauthorized inquiry — it may be a sign of identity theft.

That’s just one of several reasons it’s a good idea to regularly check your credit reports. You can request access to your credit reports from all three of the major consumer credit bureaus for free every 12 months on annualcreditreport.com — though through at least April 2021, you’re entitled to weekly access. You can also check your free credit reports from Equifax and TransUnion anytime on Credit Karma.

About the author: Romy Ribitzky is a senior editor at Credit Karma specializing in autos, auto insurance, credit, personal loans, savings and tax. Romy is an Edward R. Murrow Award–winning journalist and a marketing leader, having hone… Read more.