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7 min read

April 30, 2021

What is ‘COAF' and Why Is It On My Credit Report?

Find out what 'COAF' stands for, and what it means to have it on your credit report.

If you’re in the habit (as you should be) of regularly checking your credit report from one of the three large credit reporting agencies, you may have come across “COAF.” 

This is particularly relevant if you’ve recently purchased a new car and had a COAF credit inquiry when you applied for prequalification from Capital One Auto Finance (COAF). If you’re a co-applicant on a car loan from this lender, you may also see COAF on your credit report from this lender.

If COAF is on your credit report, but you never applied for a Capital One auto loan, it could hurt your credit until you get it removed, reports Experian. That’s because you can’t remove hard inquiries unless they're the result of identity theft. So you’ll have to wait two years until they fall off naturally.  

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What is COAF?

COAF stands for Capital One Auto Finance. 

Prequalifying for a COAF loan will only result in a soft credit pull, which doesn’t affect your credit or stay on your report. If you decide to move forward with a loan from COAF and complete your loan application, this will result in a hard credit pull. That hard credit pull can stay on your credit report for up to two years. 

That’s not all. If you submitted an application to prequalify with COAF but decided to go with a different loan, you will still see credit inquiries on your reports, and COAF may also appear on your credit reports. Why?

Why is COAF on My Credit Report?

A COAF code might appear on your credit report if you applied for a loan through Capital One Auto Finance. It might also appear on your credit report if you agreed to be a co-signer on an auto loan with COAF or you applied for a car loan with a co-applicant. COAF provides loans for new and used vehicles, as well as auto refinancing.

If you didn’t apply or co-sign for a COAF loan and think that maybe seeing COAF on your report is an error, it might be a sign of identity theft or an unauthorized inquiry. 

How Long Will COAF Stay on My Credit Report?

Most hard inquiries stay on your credit report for around two years on one or all of the three major reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.  

COAF is no different. Applying for any kind of credit — a mortgage loan, credit card, or car loan — can take away a few points from your credit score. If you make many inquiries — for a mortgage or auto loan — in a short period of time, it will likely be considered a single inquiry. 

However, the amount of time you have to shop around for your credit depends on the type of credit score — FICO or VantageScore.  FICO typically gives you 45 days to make inquiries, whereas VantageScore typically gives you only 14 days. Keep in mind that you can’t choose which type of score is used by the lender. 

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Can I Remove COAF From My Credit Report?

If you see a COAF code, it may be because there was a hard inquiry on your credit report if you applied for auto financing through Capital One. It may also appear if you cosigned for a loan from Capital One. 

If the dealership sent your loan application to multiple lenders to find the best interest rates, you might not recognize these inquiries.

If the inquiry was not made in error (such as from identity theft or inaccurate reporting), you should be able to get the COAF removed from your report.  

This is how:

  1. If another person used your identity to apply for a loan with COAF, you have rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1990. This Act gives you 30 days to dispute an inquiry once it appears on your report.  All you need to do is mail a letter disputing the COAF inquiry to Capital One — we've included the mailing address details below.
  1. You will also want to mail a letter to each of the three credit reporting agencies outlining your dispute. It may be possible to call, log into each of the credit bureau’s websites, or email a complaint. Ultimately, however, you will likely be asked to mail in a letter outlining your dispute.

  2. Contact a credit repair agency to help remove the inquiry. Keep in mind that most agencies charge a fee to remove reporting errors.

  3. Contact Capital One and all three credit agencies if a dealership (instead of you) used your application to shop around over a long period of time. Usually, if dealerships shop around, it will be within a short period of time, which won’t impact your report. However, if you see the COAF code on your report, but you’ve only been shopping for a new car for less than a few weeks, it could be an error.

Submit your written statement highlighting why you are submitting a dispute and any other documentation to:

ATTN: COAF Credit Bureau Dispute
Capital One Auto Finance
PO Box 259407
Plano, TX 75025-9407

Hard pulls to your credit, like what Captial One does when you apply for a loan, can drop your score a few points and stay on your credit for up to two years. If you never applied for a car loan from Capital One and see COAF on your credit file, you may be a victim of identity theft. If this is the case, you can get COAF removed. 

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Kathryn Pomroy
Kathryn Pomroy is a journalist and writer specializing in personal finance, consumer banking, credit cards, and loans. She has written for LendingTree, Money Crashers, Quickbooks/Intuit and Bankrate.

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