How to Mitigate Financial Difficulties Before You Apply for a Security Clearance
Here are some tips to mitigate financial difficulties before you apply for a security clearance or undergo a periodic reinvestigation:
- Research your financial history, get credit reports from multiple credit bureaus, and ensure you have a clear picture of all delinquent debts, past and present. This will help you when filling out the SF-86 so that you have all information available to disclose that is asked for in the financial sections. Ensure you list debts that may be disputed, this will alleviate any appearance of a lack of candor on your part.
- Gather copies of payments made towards any delinquent debts or if not already done, enter into negotiations or a payment plan with the creditor and keep copies of all correspondence. If tax liens or debts are involved get a copy of a payment plan showing you are addressing the debt.
- If you have not filed income taxes for whatever reason, these should be filed and resolved by the IRS before you apply for a clearance. This issue falls under personal conduct for failure to comply with the law. Obtain copies of all documentation showing resolution and be prepared to explain the circumstances.
- If insurance companies are involved in a delinquent debt and have failed to make payment, which has now been assigned to you, gather copies of all communications and correspondence with all parties involved documenting your efforts to resolve the situation.
- If medical problems, divorce, accidents, unemployment or other life events are involved gather the appropriate documentation that will corroborate your explanation.
- If you have a history of delinquent debt, I would suggest completing an in-class credit counseling course and a personal financial management plan. This would show that you recognize the problem and are taking it seriously.
The bottom line is this: be proactive in understanding your current and past financial history, take steps to resolve any outstanding delinquent debts, and gather corroborating documentation before you are confronted with it by an investigator, statement of reasons, or appeals judge. This will go a long ways towards mitigating the security concerns and give you a better chance in getting that security clearance.