When a person fills out their forms and applies for a security clearance, they’re basically asking the federal government to get in their business. Debt, drug use, criminal record, foreign girlfriends – they’re all on the table for Uncle Sam’s discerning eyes. But we’re only human and our lives are complicated, so here at ClearanceJobs we get a lot of questions about how real-life situations affect getting and maintaining a clearance. Here are just a few of the common questions we get from veterans.

Will Bitcoin cost me my security clearance?

Q: I’ve been heavily investing in Bitcoin over the past several years. A friend recently told me my Bitcoin investments could be an issue for my upcoming security clearance investigation – is that the case?

A: The Defense Security Service (DSS) has thus far been slightly ambiguous about how Bitcoin will be viewed during the course of a security clearance investigation. For awhile, the government was advising security clearance holders to report their Bitcoin investments as an asset in their security clearance application. This is likely due to the possibility of foreign influence or preference being an issue with bitcoin ownership. DSS clarified that currently there is no requirement to report bitcoin ownership – but that guidance would be coming. Because financial issues are the number one cause of security clearance denial, security clearance holders should carefully consider how any investments could potentially be a clearance or career killer. Is some investment in bitcoin likely to be any issue for a clearance, now or in the future? No. But if you’re cashing in your 401(k) to invest in bitcoin, the government may begin to question your reliability and trustworthiness, and wonder why you’re shirking the U.S. banking system to bet on an uncertain currency.

Decide what ‘heavy’ investment means based on your income and other investments, and make sure bitcoin is just one aspect of a balanced investment portfolio.

Does my military service mean I have a security clearance?

Q: I left the military and assumed I have a security clearance. But I just reached out to a recruiter and they said they don’t have record of my security clearance. What could have happened?

A: Service members may require a security clearance for two reasons – their military job requires eligibility to access classified information, or their location requires access to classified information. It’s true that many service members obtain a security clearance, and that’s due to deployments and other mission requirements which would have required access to classified information. But if you’ve been stateside for multiple years, and your last military job didn’t require access to classified information, it is very likely your security clearance expired. If you never deployed in the course of your military service, it’s also possible you never obtained a security clearance at all.

As a part of your military transition period you should check on your security clearance status with your unit security officer. That person will be able to give you all of the details on your security clearance eligibility, previous investigation dates, and any other clearance details.

Does MY SPOUSE’S DEBT jeopardize my security clearance?

Q: My spouse has racked up significant credit card debt. Do I need to be concerned that his spending habits will affect my security clearance?

A: A retired E-7 was denied a security clearance after his family wracked up $50,000 in consumer debt. He subsequently filed for bankruptcy, but later found himself in financial distress again, claiming a spouse had poorly managed finances during a deployment. The applicant had held a security clearance for more than twenty years, but that previous track record was not a mitigating factor. His security clearance was denied, and no amount of spouse blaming could save it. Over the years, many security clearance applicants have unsuccessfully argued that a spouse is to blame for the family’s poor financial situation. Unfortunately, your spouse’s financial issues will be an issue for your security clearance. Ignorance of finances is also not considered a positive.

When you apply for your first security clearance or join finances with a spouse or cohabitant, make sure they understand their spending will affect your ability to keep your clearance and maintain your livelihood. The sooner you start taking proactive steps to fix your finances, the less likely they will be to cause a security clearance issue. If you allow your family to remain mired in debt, or find yourself in repeated patterns of financial instability, it’s time to seek credit counseling – or a divorce attorney – if you’d like to keep your security clearance.

 

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.