It’s a situation most clearance holders dread: the idea of losing their security clearance. It’s not just about job security; it’s about the stability of your entire career. But did you know that seemingly minor missteps can have major consequences?

Simple Ways You Can Lose Your Security Clearance

Here are five easy ways you could inadvertently lose your security clearance — and how to avoid them.

1. Ignore Debt Issues

Financial concerns are a leading cause of security clearance denials. Mounting debt can make you vulnerable to compromise, raising red flags for clearance adjudicators. Be proactive about managing your finances. The biggest thing you can do is ask for help whenever you’re in over your head. Many companies are choosing to walk alongside employees who might be struggling. They’ve worked hard to find the right cleared candidate and hire you. You might be surprised by their willingness to find you the resources you need so that you can keep up with your personal life and not lose your security clearance.

2. Neglect to Report Foreign Travel

Missing the reporting of foreign travel might seem trivial, but in the world of security clearances, it’s a big deal. Continuous vetting (CV) will catch unreported foreign travel, potentially putting your clearance in jeopardy. So, before you jet off to visit family abroad, make sure to notify your security officer.

3. Repeated Security Violations

Mistakes happen, but repeated security violations can be disastrous for your clearance. The key to mitigating these mistakes lies in honesty and transparency. Trying to cover up violations only serves to erode trust and could ultimately lead to the loss of your clearance. But if you have a tendency to forget things or not follow instructions, put new systems in place for yourself so it’s no longer an issue. Like I tell my kids. If you keep doing things the same way, you’re going to keep getting the same result.

4. Maintain Undisclosed Relationships with Foreign Nationals

Building relationships with foreign nationals can be tricky to navigate. And depending on where you live, it may be harder to manage. But failing to report these relationships can spell trouble for your clearance. Even seemingly casual connections can have serious consequences if not properly disclosed to your security officer.

5. Engage in Undisclosed Side Employment

Side hustles can be a great way to earn extra income, but not if they compromise your clearance. Be sure to report all sources of income and ensure that your additional employment doesn’t violate any security agreements. Keep meticulous records to avoid any misunderstandings that could jeopardize your clearance. It’s not like you can’t have a side hustle, but know that the federal government will track down timecard fraud. Watch how many hours are in a day and how much work you can actually do.

Your Responsibility as a Clearance Holder

Maintaining your security clearance is doable. While these seemingly small things can derail you, they don’t have to. Stay informed and be proactive about all the different pitfalls. Simple oversights can have serious consequences. Track anything that could impact your clearance. It’s not impossible to prove your trustworthiness to the government once an issue is flagged, but it is time consuming. And loss of clearance could spell job loss if your employer doesn’t have unclassified work for you while you’re waiting to work out your issues.

Related News

Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.