Financial issues continue to be the number one cause of security clearance denial and revocation. Poor credit and credit card debt can be a major hurdle for security clearance applicants. One reason it’s advisable to request a copy of your credit report before you apply for a security clearance is to give you the chance to fix any errors before they become an issue you have to mitigate. By requesting a copy of your credit report in advance, you have the chance to:
- Pay off or resolve any debt issues you weren’t aware of, or didn’t realize were on your report.
- Fix any errors and inaccuracies on your report.
A commenter on the ClearanceJobsBlog Discussions site recently asked which of the three major credit bureaus were considered by the government in a security clearance determination. The applicant had found the information in two of the three reports to be accurate, but one included inaccurate information.
“OPM (and several other government agencies) have contracts with companies that pull what is called a tri-merge credit report using the data from all three rolled into one report,” replied Marko Hakamaa, blog moderator.
For that reason, it’s in your best interest to correct the inaccurate information from that one bureau. The truth is, minor issues on one credit report aren’t going to result in clearance denial. But depending upon the issue, it may require additional investigative work on the part of your background investigator, or delay the swift processing of your clearance. Whether it’s for your security clearance, or to make the process easier the next time you need to buy a house or a car, fight the urge to be lazy and leave inaccurate information on your credit report.
A 2013 report found 26 percent of credit reports had material inaccuracies. To correct errors, contact both the credit bureau, and the company reporting the error. Provide any documentation you have (statements that show a zero balance, or financial records). The credit bureau should reply within 30 days.