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Security clearance changes could have serious impacts on military personnel and federal employees

Have a security clearance? Make sure your bills are paid on time.

New security clearance guidelines that include continuous monitoring of the financial status of military personnel and federal employees involved in national security are now in effect. The new policy, following a presidential directive, means that a late bill, unpaid taxes, or credit blemishes—or even identity theft or a data breach—could cost service members and federal employees their security clearances or render military personnel non-deployable.

A service member or federal employee who can’t show that they are living within their means or keeping their finances in order could lose their job and livelihood as a result of this policy change.

Financial issues were already the number-one factor affecting security clearances, before the new policy was implemented in July, 2018. Previously, the federal government generally performed an initial credit check when a service member applied for a security clearance and follow-up checks every five to 10 years thereafter (depending on clearance level and the associated periodic review), which allowed clearance holders time to address any outstanding financial issues.

The new policy could have devastating consequences for service members and federal employees—many who require their security clearances to maintain their jobs. Continuous financial monitoring could result in the discovery of financial issues an individual is not aware of until his or her security clearance status has been affected.

Therefore, it is important that, in addition to keeping up to date with bills and taxes, individuals with security clearances monitor their credit regularly to ensure it is accurate and be aware of any changes to their credit score.

Temporary “freezes” may be placed on credit files, and military personnel can activate active-duty alerts, which require creditors to obtain approval before extending any lines of credit. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation also provides military personnel and their spouses with free credit scores.

It is also crucial to make sure that clearance holders have not unknowingly become the victims of identity theft or a data breach. If any issues arise, they should be dealt with immediately.

Personnel who have had their security clearance denied or revoked due to financial or other reasons can appeal the decision, but the time to do so is limited. To learn more about security clearances or to obtain assistance applying for or appealing the revocation of one, contact a Security Clearance Attorney.


Anthony J. Kuhn, Esq. is the Managing Partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC’s Buffalo office. A former First Sergeant in the United States Army Reserve and a combat veteran, Mr. Kuhn focuses much of his time on the representation of military personnelfederal employees and federal agents, as well as private employers and not-for-profit corporations.

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