By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com
Financial considerations security concerns are the most common issues that can result in the loss of, or inability to obtain, a security clearance. It is critical that when an individual runs into financial issues that they have counsel to assist and advise them with respect to the security clearance process. In security clearance cases, financial issues are generally referred to as Guideline F cases. In Guideline F cases, the government’s concern is generally focused on how a person has handled his or her finances and/or his or her vulnerability to financial manipulation given a pattern of overspending or debt. In one of our most recent articles, we mentioned that 3/4 of recent security clearance cases involving a financial consideration issue.
The following are some 7 tips to help minimize the risk of losing a security clearance involving financial considerations:
1. Pay your bills. Most security clearance clients seek our assistance when they have multiple bills that are past due, delinquent, in collections, or have been charged off. In Guideline F cases, the existence of multiple, unpaid debts seems to be the most typical reason for the loss or denial of a security clearance. It is important to gain control of your finances in such situations in order to attempt to keep your security clearance.
2. Pay/File your taxes. Individuals in tax trouble or who fail to pay and/or file their taxes risk losing their clearance. These tax issues tend to be viewed as more significant for security clearance purposes than regular debts. If outstanding taxes or tax liens are too much for the individual to pay off all at once, it is important to try to work out a plan with the IRS or state tax agency and show good faith towards resolving these debts in order to keep or obtain a security clearance. The government takes a very skeptical view of a clearance holder or applicant that has not resolved their taxes.
3. Monitor your credit report. Often times, an individual has encountered difficulties in the security clearance process because incorrect information is listed on his or her credit reports. In our experience, errors can be common, but can also lead to security clearance issues raised by the Government. It is important for an individual applying for or holding a security clearance to keep a close eye on his or her credit report for errors and potential problems. If a debt is inaccurate, it is important for an individual to dispute the debt as soon as possible and keep records of all disputes and efforts to demonstrate that a debt does not belong to an individual.
4. Do not run up significant debts and/or live beyond your means. Having too many debts can put an individual at risk of losing a security clearance. To the government, this can indicate that the individual is living beyond his or her means.
5. Work with creditors to attempt to resolve unpaid debts. It is always better for an individual to get ahead of his or her credit problems than to wait until he or she receives notice of a possible denial of a security clearance. An individual who recognizes a debt problem and works towards resolving it early and before a clearance issue is raised tends to be given more credit towards the granting of the clearance as opposed to an individual who starts the process after he or she receives notice of the potential loss of the clearance. Even if a creditor is non-responsive, it is important to try multiple times to communicate with the creditor in an effort to resolve these issues.
6. Consider credit counseling/ credit classes. If an individual falls behind in his or her debts, it is still important to show how that individual is working to get back on a healthy financial track in order to alleviate concerns about the individual’s ability to hold a security clearance. Taking meaningful credit classes or engaging in credit counseling can help mitigate security concerns by showing affirmative steps taken by an individual to get better control over his or her finances.
7. Report potential issues to security officer/investigator. If and when major financial issues arise, it can be important to report them, in advance, to an individual's security officer. Doing so in appropriate situations can be evidence of mitigation for security concerns.
When facing financial consideration security concerns it is important to have the assistance and advice of counsel. We represent individuals in security clearance and other employment matters. If you need assistance with a security clearance issue, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook page.