Can My Poor Credit Ruin My Husband's Security Clearance?

by Ryan Donovan ; Updated July 27, 2017
Spousal credit history may or may not affect a security clearance application.

Some people applying for security clearances may have worries that their application will not be approved due to their spouse having poor credit history. While it is certainly not impossible that a spouse’s poor credit will affect a security clearance application, it is not automatic. What matters more is whether or not the applicant’s credit history is tainted by the spouse.

Secret Security Clearance

The website for the FBI describes the process for two types of security clearances. The first type it mentions is a secret clearance. A secret clearance application typically takes about 45 to 60 days to process. The FBI performs record checks with federal and local law enforcement agencies. The candidate must complete forms SF-86 and FD-258. A credit history check is performed as well.

Top Secret Security Clearance

The FBI notes that a top secret security clearance has all of the steps that a secret clearance does but with two major differences. First, the applicant’s history dating back 10 years is analyzed. Lastly, this type of clearance can take six to nine months to process. The background check the FBI conducts is extensive. Citizenship is verified for family members, the applicant’s birth date, educational history, employment history and military history are all analyzed and verified. Interviews are conducted with those who know the candidate include current spouses or spouses who have been with the applicant within the last 10 years. Current and prior residences are confirmed and current or former neighbors are interviewed.

Credit History Implications

As part of the security clearance screening process, credit history is checked and public records are scrutinized. Any information relating to bankruptcies, divorces and criminal or civil litigation is found, as it exists, and analyzed. The FBI does state that credit troubles do not automatically disqualify someone from gaining a security clearance. However, it also says that it can indeed cause an application to be rejected.

How Spouse's Credit Can Impact Security Clearance Applications

Spousal credit history may or may not affect someone who is applying for a security clearance. Whether it does depends on one major factor. CNNMoney describes that if one or more accounts that is in some stage of delinquency or default is shared by both spouses, then the credit profile of both spouses will be affected. A delinquent account that is in one spouse’s name will not affect the credit of the other spouse unless his name is on that account as well. Individuals who wish to keep their credit clean need to make sure that any account with their name on it, whether it be only their own or held jointly, remains current. As long as this is done, the credit history of the other spouse should not be an issue when the credit check is done.

About the Author

Ryan Donovan has worked in payroll and human resources since 2004. A certified payroll professional with the American Payroll Association, he also holds an M.B.A., a master's degree in human resources and a B.A. in information technology from Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kan.

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