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Avoid these mistakes to protect your security clearance

Security clearances determine whether an individual is eligible for access to classified information. These clearances are used for jobs that contain secret and top secret information, including jobs in agencies like the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security. The biggest concern when it comes to security clearances is determining whether an individual has unquestionable allegiance to the United States, as there is a lot of sensitive information at stake.

During the personnel security background investigation, your history must show your loyalty to the United States as well as strength of character, trustworthiness, reliability, judgment, and honesty. If there is anything on your record that labels you unqualified, your application for security clearance will be denied. Let's dive into a few things that will keep you from receiving security clearance.

Having a large amount of debt

Unfortunately, incurring a substantial amount of debt seems to be the norm in our current culture. If you happen to be one of the unlucky individuals with lots of debt, you could be denied a security clearance. But why? It's considered that a someone with a lot of debt is more prone to accept bribes in exchange for revealing confidential material.

If you find yourself in this predicament, seek help to get debt-free. How you address your debt is the difference between being accepted or denied for security clearance.

Having an extensive criminal background or lying about it

One of the worst things you can do is lie about your criminal history. As stated earlier, the personnel investigating your application are looking for an honest, trustworthy person who will help keep sensitive information secure.

A few misdemeanors are one thing, but if your record is riddled with felonies, or if you're currently on parole or probation, you may get denied access to a security clearance. Lying about a criminal record-or anything one one's application-is worse as it demonstrates a lack of trustworthiness.

Using drugs

More often than not, a person will be able to obtain a security clearance even though he or she may have used drugs at some point at a young age. Being drug-free for a significant period of time, though, is important when seeking a clearance. Drug dependence may make the government believe that someone is not able to be trusted with classified information.

Foreign influence

This issue may arise if the applicant has dual-citizenship, has a passport for a foreign country (and continues to renew it), or shows any preference to a foreign country. With terror attacks on the rise, and the ever-imminent threat of ISIS hovering over our heads, foreign influence is not to be taken lightly in matters of national security.

If you're applying for a security clearance and have a strong tie to any foreign relations, it may be important to end ties to that country. Whether that means handing over your old passport or certain other examples, you need to give your employer confidence that you are fully dedicated to the United States' security.

When you're applying for a security clearance for a potential job, it's important to instill trust right away. If there is any questionable material on your application or your have a past you aren't proud of you can:

  • Show that you're a different person through your actions and attitudes
  • Admit that you've made mistakes and are taking responsibility for them
  • Cut ties with past troubling influences and people

These are but a few, general steps to take in improving the odds of getting your security clearance application approved.

Hire an experienced military defense attorney to help you fight for your clearance

Losing your security clearance can have a major impact on your military career. If your clearance is under threat for any reason, you can fight to protect it. Attorney David P. Sheldon is one of the nation's preeminent military criminal defense attorneys. Wherever you are in the world, the David P. Sheldon law firm is ready to help you protect our rights and your future.*

*None of what is explained here is intended as legal advice. It is only intended as general guidance. Should you encounter any issues with your security clearance and need assistance, consult with an attorney to review your options.

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