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The Myth of Security Clearance and Credit Score

by Tracy Latona |

Do you need to have a good credit score to have a security clearance? 

Many times, soldiers and contractors are led to believe that they have to have a credit card to build their credit to keep or obtain security clearance, to do their job. This is simply not true.

What the Adjudicator, or investigator that gives your life a look under the microscope, will look at is your credit report. 

The difference is this: a credit score is the number between 300-850 from the credit agencies that says how well you pay back debt. A credit report is the history of accounts from debt; whether they’re current or late, how many payments you’ve made or missed, and how many open or closed accounts you’ve had in the last 7 years. 

A synopsis of the Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) Guideline F: Financial Considerations (the rule book for security clearance), the Adjudicator looks for risky behavior with finances. Do you have too much debt? Do you pay back your debts? Do you have a lot of unexplained income? Do you have a history of not satisfying financial obligations? They’re looking for patterns that could cause a compromise in the individual, which may create a national security issue. All this points to the credit report, not the score. Guess what? You don’t need a credit report, either.

The Adjudicator’s job is to call you up, and ask questions if they have any. If they find that you don’t have a credit history, you get to explain that your lifestyle does not include debt, and you don’t take out loans. 

We fell into this trap. I’ve had conversations with several military and contractors who fell into this trap. They get the credit card to build credit (and get/keep security clearance), and end up hurting because they got it at 18-20 years old, ran it up, and were told myths that this is the way to live life. Now that you know the truth, that you do not need a credit score to have a security clearance, what changes for you? —

Tracy Latona  

Golden Rose Financial Coaching  

(502) 665-1127