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Charge offs and security clearance

New Visitor

Charge offs and security clearance

I appologize if this is in the wrong place but I'm very stressed out about this issue. I'm in the process of joining special operations in the Air Force. I had the physical side down and I passed my fitness test to be qualified for training, but now I need to get a security clearance. 

The only problem is, and I'll be honest here, that I was an idiot in college. I only focused on paying rent and gas on time. I had 5 credit cards and paid them on time a while but then ran into some tough times and let them go to collections and get charged off. It equals to about $5000. 

Do I have any hope here? I have no idea where to even begin to get this cleared up. I just want to get my security clearance and I need it ASAP. I can't stress ASAP enough. My parents said they will actualy pay it off completely for me and I will pay them back because I'm selling my car when I leave to training. Is this the best thing to do? Again I don't even know where to start even if this is the best way to go about it. 

Any help is appreciated and thank you so much.  
Message 1 of 6
Community Leader
Legendary Contributor

Re: Charge offs and security clearance

Having mananged a government organization where all my employees were required to have a national security clearance, here is my view.


You will be asked to fill out a security questionairre prior to their conducting the actual background investigation (BI).


A standard questionairre will usually ask whether you have any old, unpaid delinquent debt.

If you do, be sure to answer truthfully, as they will see it if and when they pull your CR, and a false statement in your questionairre will either lead to a denial of clearance, or if you do receive a clearance and they discover it later, a revocation of your clearance. Deceipt is a death knell for any security clearance.


If you have not paid the debt, chances of approval will most likely be slim.  Thus, I agree that you should satisfy the debt prior to the clearance process.


If it is paid, it may or may not affect approval.  That is dependent upon their current guidelines relevant to the type and level of clearance.  Having been honest and having paid the debt might get you through.  Having let it go to the point of charge-ff reflects upon your character, but is no longer a potential for outside coercion, so it is mitigated.  The fact that it was years ago may also mitigate any reflection on your current character


As they are likely to pull your CR and become aware of it in any event, my recommended course of action would be to make an initial call to the security office of the government organization that will be administering the clearance process, and ask them if the presence of an old but now satisfied debt will be a show-stopper.

Only they can tell you if that is an absolute basis for denial.

Message 2 of 6
Established Contributor

Re: Charge offs and security clearance

As someone who has had a security clearance for the last 30 (22 as military, the rest as a contractor) years or so "What he said". Never , ever, lie on the questionaire. They WILL find out. It is better to have a few negatives that you tell them about than get caught hiding something. Pay it off and have proof you apid it off with you when you interview. Did they tell you it isn't just the paperwork, they will interview you as well. I just did my update last year and they still ask about something 25 years ago. When they ask you about it tell the truth, you were an idiot kid, made mistakes, and corrected them. The best that you canhope for is they agree that you've corrected it. Also be careful about who you put as a reference. Make sure they don't have a shady past because that could come back to bite you as well. And good luck, the training for AFSOC (you going PJ?) is as hard as it gets.

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Message 3 of 6
New Visitor

Re: Charge offs and security clearance

Thank you both very much for the help. I'm really nervous about this. Hopefully paying it off will help grant my clearance.

And yes sir cageym I am going to PJ training. I'd be absolutely crushed if after all this I couldn't go to training because of my credit.
Message 4 of 6
Valued Contributor

Re: Charge offs and security clearance

While I have no govt affiliation and cant comment on the others advice I can offer a suggestion reguarding these accounts I know you say ASAP how long? When you contact these CA's or OC's first they will be thrilled to be getting paid on the old debts and in full at that!  Use a little negoitiating and try for pay for delete. It also wouldnt hurt if they agree to ask if they can send off the request to delete while still on phone (dont deal with a low level collector request a supervisor). Of course get this also emailed to you A that you paid and B that its requested to be deleted. Then join one of the CR monitoring services that allow daily pulls. You might get lucky. If its not a deal beaker on security clearence and you get PFD's you will be helping your credit score.  Good Luck!!!

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Message 5 of 6
Established Member

Re: Charge offs and security clearance

I have been in Navy Recruiting for the last 17 years and withholding information for your clearance is a huge mistake.  I would make contact with the creditors.  If you have the money do a PFD.  If nothing else works you can try to contact the OC and see if they will turn your CO's into an installment loan of some type to remove the CO.  With some of the Clearances if you show that you are making payments they will be satisfied.


Hope this helps and Good Luck

Message 6 of 6