What To Do If You Have Delinquent Debt

Continuing our series on the impact of delinquent debt on security clearances, we examine how delinquent debt affects interim clearances and we give you 7 steps to take if you have delinquent debt that may affect your security clearance….

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1.  Start correcting the problem immediately, document all efforts, and keep a chronology of activities.

2.  Get credit reports from all three national credit reporting companies and use the reports to make a list of all your creditors, but understand its limits.  Things that sometimes don’t show up on a credit report including unpaid alimony, tax delinquencies, automobile leases, and some other debts.  Occasionally erroneous and duplicate information appears on a report.  Although the clearance application form (SF86) only asks for 7 year’s worth of financial information; adjudicators may consider all financial information available to them, including financial information collected by field investigators from court records, rental/utility records, personal references, real estate records, and employment records that does not appear on a credit report.

3.  Immediately take action to dispute any erroneous information on the credit report.

4.  Make at least minimum regular monthly payments to all creditors.

5.  Contact those creditors that have unpaid claims against you, insure that the claims are legitimate, and set up a repayment schedule as soon as possible.  Try to communicate in writing and keep copies of all correspondence.  If you communicate by telephone, make a written record of the telephone call and include the date, name of the person you spoke to, and a gist of the conversation.

6.  Seek credit counseling if necessary, preferably with organizations that is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  They may be able to negotiate better repayment terms and lower interest rates than you are able to obtain by yourself.

7.  Don’t be afraid of bankruptcy, if your situation warrants it.  If you seek the services of a reputable credit counseling service first, they will advise you whether your situation can be resolved better through bankruptcy or debt consolidation.

William H. Henderson is a retire security investigator, author of Security Clearance Manual: How To Reduce The Time It Take To Get Your Government Clearance, and regular contributor to ClearanceJobsBlog.com.

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