When I was in the military, I had little knowledge of credit much less how credit affected my secret clearance. There were zero classes about credit and your clearance when I was in the military. If you’re in the military, more than likely you have a secret or higher clearance. These clearances get renewed every 5 to 10 years. Let’s face it most spillers of classified information have done so for monetary reasons. This makes the Department of Defense and other similar agencies vigilant that you have no financial issues.
There are a lot of military members that just are not really good with financial decisions. When I was deployed to Bosnia, there was a soldier who bought a brand new car with his deployment money, too bad that wasn’t enough between the car payments and insurance, he couldn’t afford the gas to go anywhere. This happens to a lot of service members, maybe this happened to you? Sometimes it’s credit cards, sometimes its bad checks due to being separated from their checking account, either way, all these small financial mistakes can add up.
If you have ever deployed, your mail gets forwarded to you. Still, there are times not all mail makes it to you. A missed bill could easily happen, these bills could end up with a debt collector. This same thing could happen if you PCS to a new location. Mail could just not catch up to you. Whether your financial issues were carelessness or just bad luck it’s best to get on top of them early.
What about becoming a victim of identity fraud? While deployed its very easy for someone to get a hold of your personal information and use it to gain access to your credit. Due to the delay in your mail, it might be a while to find out that someone has accessed and using your credit. Getting identity fraud off your report is easy but you must be truthful and be ready to do a police report. One way to prevent identity fraud while deployed is to freeze your credit report while deployed. Another way is to use credit monitoring to inform you if someone has accessed your credit.
Another credit issue that might turn up is giving someone a General Power of Attorney when they don’t need one. Who knows what kind of debt they could open in your name with this legal document. Do yourself a favor and stick with a special power of attorneys in all cases. Though while I worked as a legal specialist, we did not have any case where someone abused it, there always is a chance.
What can you do to check your credit report before it gets time to renew your secret clearance? Due to your secret clearance being part of your livelihood, you should head to annualcreditreport.com at least a year in advance of you having to do your SF 86. Once you have filled out the length of time for the investigation to complete could be anywhere from 6 to 18 months depending on the type of clearance. As you go through the 3 bureaus ensure you print that report to PDF (or save to PDF). This way you can go back and review what might be items that you need to dispute or at least have an explanation ready for the issue for your security clearance investigator.
What about judgments, bankruptcy, child support or foreclosures? These are all negative items that you have to report on your SF 86. Even if you can get them off your credit report, tell the truth and be honest about them to the investigator and make sure you are paying them off or will pay them off. Show positive action to the investigator and it will help out your chances with getting your clearance renewed. The positive thing about a clearance investigation is they are not focused on your credit score, they are focused on the discrepancies on the credit report.
If your credit report is not as good as you think it should be or you have confusion about how your credit report will affect your clearance, don’t hesitate to contact us at Wasatch Smart Finance. We will come up with a plan for repairing your credit to prevent you from losing your clearance. Contact us today and we will do a free credit analysis and we waive your first work fees and 10 dollars per month off if you are a military member. Also, if you are a civilian employee or contractor we can help you with your credit report also. While you’re here check the article on whether a secured credit card can help you.