Did you know that one of the most common reasons a person is denied a security clearance is because of credit problems? Up to 50 percent of clearance denials involve financial considerations, according to reports from the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals, or DOHA.
Why does the government care about personal debt?
The bottom line: Credit problems could — statistically speaking — make some people vulnerable to coercion.
Since the 1980s, nearly half of Americans who committed espionage against our country did it for financial gain. In fact, cybercrime and espionage costs the U.S. about $100 billion annually based on estimates from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. If you have access to sensitive information, the government cares about any vulnerabilities, including financial.
Another reason to review credit reports is for personal protection.
Most people do not discover that they’ve been the victim of identity theft until a thief has racked up several months’ worth of debt and possibly wreaked chaos in other ways.
“Once identity thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts or get medical treatment on your health insurance. An identity thief can file a tax refund in your name and get your refund. In some extreme cases, a thief might even give your name to the police during an arrest.” writes www.IdentityTheft.gov.
This type of fraud could also cause further harm to clearance eligibility. Recovering from identity theft can take an estimated average of six months and 200 hours of work, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Reviewing credit reports is worth the time.
To request your credit report while stationed overseas, call (877) 322-8228 or submit a request by mail. Annual Credit Report does not allow online credit report access from outside the U.S.
Order by mail:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Citizens are eligible to receive a copy of their credit report for free every 12 months. If you believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, file a report at identitytheft.gov and get a recovery plan.
Contact the ACS Financial Readiness Program for additional help with debt. ACS can help with credit counseling, debt reduction, repayment plans, credit disputes and more. You can also visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USAGbavariaACS.