A recent article published by the Department of Defense highlights the risk financial issues can play not just to a military career broadly, but to a security clearance specifically. The post notes the government’s continuous evaluation programs for security clearance holders will scan credit reports by the major credit bureaus – including the recently breached Equifax:

Article by Staff Sgt. Samantha Krolikowski, 92d Air Refueling Wing

Did you know your security clearance could be affected if you get into financial trouble? 

“Anyone who holds a clearance can be subjected to blackmail or coercion if their finances create a vulnerability,” said Steven Doll, 92nd Air Refueling Wing personnel security. “This in turn creates a national security risk for classified information.”

All individuals who hold a security clearance are held to a standard of loyalty, trustworthiness and reliability. When an individual begins to spend beyond their means, it can in return affect their clearance and ultimately, their career. 

Through the Department of Defense Continuous Evaluation Program, the DoD Consolidated Adjudications Facility randomly checks the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network database, to include credit bureaus such as: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. The FINCEN database tracks all finances for anyone who has a clearance, Doll added. 

“It’s important to stay on track of finances because poor personal financial management can lead security clearance adjudicators to question a person’s reliability and trustworthiness which are key components when determining someone’s suitability to handle classified or other sensitive duties,” said Susan Conard 92nd Air Refueling Wing chief information protection.

A clearance can be suspended if an individual files bankruptcy, has liens placed on property, foreclosures, wage garnishments, collections, repossessions, court judgements, failure to pay child support, reckless gambling debt, improper use of government funds, failure to pay taxes, defaulting on a loan, or over 120 days delinquent on any debt. 

The article notes a difficult situation in the continuous evaluation era. We’ve already seen how foreign intelligence services can use social networking sites to plant false information about security clearance holders. The Equifax breach introduces another area for potential fraud – within your credit, which can easily have a direct impact on your ability to maintain a security clearance.

It’s more important than ever for security clearance holders to be aware of their credit, and any fraudulent charges that may be in their account. If you find you’ve been the victim of identity theft, check out this article which outlines five steps which can be taken to get your identity and your good name back.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at ClearanceJobs.com. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer