Need Urgent Advice re: MR Public Trust & Debt/Finances Issues

OK, a somewhat long and complicated one but I really really need some advice here please and would be super grateful for it. I’ve recently been offered a job requiring a moderate risk public trust investigation/approval, as opposed to my past (and current) jobs that just required filling out the regular old 85.

I have zero criminal history, drug use, adverse employment actions, etc. in my background. I do, however, have a couple of possible financial issues as follows:

  1. I did have a few small (think $300 and under, far under) medical bills go into collections in the late 2018/first half of 2019 timeframe due to a mix of a) not getting a decent amount of my mail or having it returned as undeliverable by the post office due to weird forwarding issues etc. despite having lived at the same place for 10 years; and b) multiple family emergencies consuming my time and some things slipping under the radar. All of these have long since been paid off; they don’t even show up on my credit but I will have to list it on my 85P.

  2. I have a fairly high amount of debt due to a confluence of circumstances including having a couple of chronic illnesses that a few years back required a lot of treatment, not all of it covered by insurance (costing hundreds of dollars a week) and some of it requiring travel to specialized places/providers I couldn’t get to (outlying suburbs) w/out taking lots of cabs, etc.; what was covered by insurance requiring copays, etc; and non-medical things I also had to spend money on services/products wise for a few years while I was in bad shape as I couldn’t do some things well or be outside in the cold weather that triggered by nerve pain, etc. (again, travel costs to avoid that). Some of it as well again relates to some family emergencies in providing support to my sister and brand new nephew a few years back through an unintended pregnancy/birth and somewhat to my mom though my parents separation/dad’s alzeimer’s/moms job loss (and all the travel across the country I kept having to do to manage them), etc.

Most of the debt is credit cards, which are all on autopay and paid on time without fail. I also have a personal loan from the shutdown that is paid on time without fail, and student loans that are, again, paid on time without fail. My mortgage and home equity line of credit, while they have never been late in the technical sense (ie never 30 plus so marked as paid on time w/out fail) have often been paid fairly late in the month/cycle when I had to juggle paydays w/ bills etc (and so did incur the usual 15 days late fee etc then, which of course I paid too when I paid them; and anything showing dates paid would show I often paid these accounts later in the month. One other thing I’ll have to report in fact is that I do think my heloc line of credit was actually briefly suspended (even though it wasn’t late in the 30 plus sense) once or twice when I couldn’t transfer money to the bank it’s paid from in time; I’m since putting this account on autopay as well like the credit cards to avoid this issue repeating ever again.

I have the income high enough to make all my payments and etc. basically in the no-lates sense; but I would really love to actually do more than just make minimum payments and etc and instead actually make progress to totally eliminating all the credit card debt entirely now that I am in a better/improved condition medically as of this year, and no longer mired in family issues either. I had been considering doing nonprofit credit counseling/debt management plan to help me with this but had held off on it due to holidays, budget season, coronavirus, etc. and the fact that I DO pay my bills (no current delinquencies or collections or etc of any kind); I’d just like a chance to get into a better spot overall now that the conditions that led to things (the lions share of the debt) are better.

I see in the 85P that if you are doing one of those (debt management/counseling) you have to report it; but I guess at this point I’m wondering what looks better in terms of my soon to be initiated moderate risk public trust investigation/determination - a credit report and etc that shows I have no 30 days lates or delinquencies of any kinds or etc but does show in some details that certain accounts (mortgage and heloc) were often paid “soft late”; ie, 16 or 20 in terms of dates paid listed and a fair amount of debt but does NOT have the brand of “participating in debt management program” on it; or one that DOES have that on it - and once just very recently initiated in fact - but the reason being that I really wanted to take actions to improve my long term financial situation and etc. this year now that I’m healthier and etc. and make sure that going forward I’m in a position to be able to never have to even deal with any of the juggling different bill dates or paying mortgage on the 18th, etc.; ever again? I’ve read some things that seem to suggest it might actually be viewed favorably that I got into the debt management/counseling program and am taking proactive steps to eliminate the debt, etc; but wasn’t sure if that would be the case here or not given that I’m still technically paying everything on time even now, and that it would be a new/recent step. (If I can do the debt mgmt/counseling you think while undergoing the investigation, that would be my preference; it’s always been my goal to tackle the debt for good this year.)

Any and all advice appreciated. Thanks!


Your situation will most likely trigger the need for an interview. You can prep for that in the following ways:

  1. Obtaining the credit report from all three agencies. Scour it. See about getting everything paid either in full (collections) or on time. Contact the companies or businesses where the collections originated. Get it paid in full then See if there is a way for them to remove the collection info from the credit report. If so get that in writing then notify the credit reporting agencies.

  2. Get enrolled into a counseling program. Not because you want a clearance but because you want excellent credit. Realign your mindset to personal financial improve not just clearance adjudication.

  3. List everything the credit report shows as an issue. Late payments will appear on those reports as does addresses, AKAs and account types.

  4. If you have federal, student, or tax debt of any sort be sure to list that information as well. Those accounts usually have some sort of payment plan attached. Telling your investigator that there might be something arranged or will be arranged isn’t enough.

Hope these few hints help. Best wishes!!

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Thanks. To clarify: I actually have no current delinquencies of any kinds, or any on my credit reports. At one point in 2019 though I had a couple of medical bills in collections, all of which are long since paid off in full and none of which are on my credit reports at all. I know that the 85P asks about past collections too though, so of course I’ll have to list that they did exist (but are all paid off in full and not on credit report).

In terms of my credit reports, I’ve looked at all of them (scores between 650 and 680) and they actually all have a great payment history score etc. just a high credit utilization/amount of debt w/ the credit cards. According to the credit reports I pulled that say I have a 99% on time payment history. (So there are no actual late payments on anything; just that if one looked at the actual dates I paid my mortgage or HELOC they would see that sometimes it was on the 20th instead of the 1st, etc.).

I did decide to follow through w/ my prior plan/desire to consult a credit counseling org. and see about a debt mgmt. plan actually on the amount of credit card debt/etc. I incurred between the time I was sick and the family issues and the shutdown and etc; and discuss with them my budget and my situation and that I was making all the payments on the cards on time (they were actually really thrilled w/ my payment history as I gather most of their clients have many delinquent accounts) but wanted a plan to actually be able to pay it all off rather than just making minimum payments and shuffling bills around, etc. They’ve provided me w/ one (a debt mgmt. plan) that I will probably accept; that if it works out will allow me to still maintain my sterling “on time” payment history w/ all my credit cards and would pay them all off in about four years and put me in a great financial position again.

Given this clarifying info on the situation (no current delinquencies or collections; none on the report; and an overall great “on time” payment history with all accounts (just that if one looks beyond the “on time” payment status at actual payment dates for the mortgage/heloc, they’ll see that they were paid later in the month); and the steps that I have and am taking to improve my heavy debt load and finances by seeing credit counseling and doing the debt management plan, etc.; do you think it is possible for me to pass a MR Public Trust investigation? Thanks.

You are doing the right things. Wilndncrazy framed it well. Do it to improve financial health…not to simply get a clearance. By bringing all this to the table you demonstrate honesty and a man with a plan…not just an idea. Concrete steps taken to work through issues beats good intentions any day.

Edit: Editing this post as it’s now superfluous; see post below instead.

Thanks for all your advice so far everyone. I think I’ve come to a decision for what I’m going to do. In addition to doing the debt management plan that I’m in the middle of setting up, most likely I will actually stay in my current job for the moment (not ideal due to touchy supervisors and issues w/ the agency itself and its situation/etc.; there are reasons I was trying so hard to leave), and basically spend the next year building the history that I can stick to the plan (rest of this year will be super grim due to needing to save a lot for a large known expense I’ll no longer have any other way to cover; but after that life should be good even while following out the last three 1/2 years of the plan and saving at more feasible long term levels) and have left my past financial issues behind me. Am I correct in assuming that at that point, with a year of compliance to the plan and continued work w/ the credit counseling folks, etc; I will (in addition to improved finances, yay) also be in a much better spot to be able to qualify/pass an investigation? Thanks!

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Hello Kaia,

Is there an update? Were you granted clearance?

-A person in a similar situation