When you look at your credit report, the last thing you want to see is a name you don’t recognize next to a loan or a credit pull.
If you recently checked your credit report and you see the acronym COAF listed, you might be wondering what organization this is and whether it’s indicative of fraud.
The term ‘COAF’ stands for Capital One Auto Finance. It can also show up on your credit report in a number of different variations, such as ‘capital one auto fin’ or ‘cap one auto.’
Though you might be worried at first when you see this acronym on your credit report, it refers to a legitimate company. In fact, Capital One is the third largest credit issuer after JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup and the fourth largest auto loan provider after Ally Bank, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase.
Capital One Auto Finance offers financing for vehicles (both new and used) through its network of participating dealerships. Additionally, it provides refinancing for existing auto loans.
You can learn more on their official website.
If you see ‘COAF’ on your credit report, there are a number or reasons it might be occurring. Here are three legitimate reasons that COAF might be appearing on your credit report:
Let’s take a deeper look at these options and what they mean for your credit report and score.
Did you recently apply for an auto loan through Capital One Auto Financing? If so, they will usually run a credit check in order to determine whether you are eligible for the loan.
When you complete an auto loan application, it results in a hard credit pull.
A hard credit pull typically occurs when a financial institution checks your credit during the process of making a lending decision. A soft credit pull usually occurs when your credit has been checked as a part of a background check.
You usually have to authorize a hard credit pull before a lender can run this type of inquiry. It can have a negligible effect on your credit scores or it can lower your score by a few points. If it does do slight damage to your credit, the impact usually decreases or completely disappears before the inquiry falls off your credit reports, which usually takes about two years.
Even if you didn’t end up taking out a loan with Capital One Auto Finance, the hard inquiry will appear on your credit report if you completed an application and authorized the credit pull.
Are you wondering what your current credit scores are? This guide goes over how you can get your credit scores from all three of the credit bureaus for free.
You will also likely see COAF on your credit report if you applied for prequalification through the auto loan company. When you apply to see if you prequalify for a loan, lenders will run a soft credit pull rather than a hard credit pull.
Soft credit inquiries show up on your credit reports but don’t have any impact on your credit scores.
Whether or not a soft pull shows up on your credit report depends on the credit bureau. These inquiries are only visible to you when you take a look at your credit reports since they aren’t connected to a specific new credit application.
If you’re currently making monthly loan payments to Capital One Auto Finance for an auto loan, you will likely see it appear on your credit report. Lenders almost always record monthly loan payments with at least one of the primary credit reporting agencies.
A previous auto loan that has been paid off in full can also show up on your credit report, which will be recorded as a closed account.
Is your credit a mess? Take a look at our guides to removing derogatory marks from your credit report, deleting a collection account, removing an eviction from your records, and deleting a 30-day late payment.
Car loan applicants are allowed to apply with a co-signer through Capital One Auto Finance. Having a co-signer is a useful tool for people that don’t have great credit as a co-signer with a credit history can help them get approved or receive better terms for their loan.
If you have co-signed on an auto loan application with someone else, there will likely be a credit inquiry on your credit report. It’s worth noting that your credit can be impacted by being a co-signer and you are responsible for making loan payments if the other borrower stops making payments.
How long COAF will stay on your credit report depends on the underlying reason that it is there in the first place.
For example, if you applied to see if you prequalify for a loan but didn’t end up filling out an application, lenders will only run a soft pull of your credit. Though soft inquiries will be visible to you when you look at your credit report, they are not visible to lenders.
Beyond that, soft pulls don’t have any impact on your credit scores. This is true no matter how many soft inquiries have been run on your credit.
According to Capital One, soft pulls only stay on your credit report for 12-24 months.
If you completed an auto loan application through Capital One Auto Finance, a hard inquiry will more than likely show up on your credit report.
Unlike soft inquiries, hard inquiries can be seen by lenders and can impact your credit scores.
Even if you didn’t end up taking out a loan with COAF, the hard pull will still appear on your credit report. Usually, hard inquiries will stay on your credit report for about two years.
If you have an auto loan with COAF, it will show up on your credit reports along with other types of installment loans, like mortgages and student loans.
Even once you have paid the loan off in full, it will remain on your credit report as a closed account. A closed positive account that doesn’t have any associated negative information can stay on your credit report for up to ten years from the closing date.
Car loans are one of the more popular types of installment loans. This means that you make a down payment or apply the trade-in value of a car you already own and then finance the balance with an auto loan that is paid in monthly payments.
How long a closed COAF account stays on your credit depends on what the status of the loan was when the account was closed.
If the account was delinquent at the time that it was closed, the entire account will remain on your credit report for seven years starting from the date that the account was initially recorded as delinquent. The date that the account first became late without being made current is known as the original delinquency date.
If there were past due payments on the account but they were paid in full before the account was closed, the late payment marks will disappear from your credit after seven years. After this point, it will appear as a positive account on your credit report.
If there wasn’t any negative information in the account's history, it will be recorded as a closed positive account and can stay on your credit report for up to ten years after the closing date.
If you applied for an auto-loan as a co-signer, a hard pull will be run on your credit. Hard pulls typically stay on your credit report for about two years.
If the person you co-signed with actually borrows money after being approved for the loan, the loan will show up on your credit report as if the loan is your own. The loan will stay on your credit report following the same timeline outlined in the previous section– “Closed Accounts.”
If you see COAF on your credit report and you didn’t recently apply for a car loan or otherwise have any interaction with Capital One Auto Finance, it’s perfectly reasonable to feel confused and stressed.
There are a number of reasons why an inquiry might show up on your credit report that you didn’t authorize, including either a reporting error or identity theft.
If you see a hard inquiry on your credit report from COAF that you didn’t authorize, it’s a good idea to call the creditor (in this case, COAF,) and ask why your credit was run. If you see a hard inquiry on your report and you’re not sure who the creditor is, you can find it listed under the hard inquiry section of your credit report.
If it appears that the hard pull was simply an error, the creditor will most likely be able to help you and remove the hard pull from your report. If you are struggling to get the inquiry removed over the phone with COAF, you will want to file a dispute by mailing a letter to the credit bureau or calling the credit bureau.
When you call COAF to find out why a hard pull was run on your credit that you didn’t authorize, the best case scenario is that it was an error on their end.
In some instances, though, they might claim that you supposedly did authorize the inquiry.
If this occurs, there’s a possibility that you are the victim of identity theft.
Here are the steps you’ll want to take:
You can find out more about what to do about identity theft using the Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov.
After you’ve dealt with the initial fraudulent activity, there are a few more steps you can take:
If you're on a mission to improve your credit, check out our posts about why your credit dropped 100 points, building credit when you have no credit history, and whether prepaid cards help improve your credit.
It’s always a good idea to check your credit report regularly so that you can spot anything strange as soon as possible. If the COAF on your credit report is inaccurate, you should contact Capital One Auto Finance to verify that it was an error and have it removed. If they believe it was accurate, it’s possible that you were the victim of identity theft and there are a number of steps you’ll want to take.
Is it time to make your credit something that works for you rather than against you? Check out our credit-building blog for more articles and guides about boosting your scores and cleaning up your credit report.