Need your help!

Dear Marko Hakamaa,

My fiance recently applied for a job position with a naval shipyard company which required him to submit an application for a security clearance. After his application was processed, the HR department informed him that he was unable to use me as a personal reference, more specifically he could not list on paper that he was currently living and residing with me. No further details were given, however we have searched countless online resources on this topic and have read that an applicant’s spouse or even a significant other’s financial history may be the problem. I do have some student loan debt, but I didn’t see anything else on my credit reports that could possibly affect him using me as a reference unless I’m overlooking something. Could you give me any information as to what may be the cause of this? We are beginning to plan our future together and I’d like to try and resolve whatever this issue is with me, but I haven’t a clue as to where I should start. Currently, I do not have much income left after my monthly bills are paid, making it impossible for me to tackle all of my debt at once, but if I had some insight in which areas were more detrimental than others, I could work towards a resolution. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions and/or advice you could give me on this matter.

Thank you for your time,

Agencies or companies cannot tell you what information should or should not be on the SF-86 application form. They should only be reviewing it for completeness and errors. They are correct in that you cannot use a spouse or cohabitant as a person that knows you for the residence or reference sections. Because you are not yet married, he would list you in section 17.3 as a cohabitant. Failure to list this would most certainly create problems during the investigation. As far as your finances, they should not impact his ability to get a clearance if they are not legally his debts.

Thank you for the fast response!

I noticed that section 17.3 on the security clearance questionnaire doesn’t require a cohabitant’s social security number. I read online that it is rare to do a background/credit investigation on a cohabitant for a low level security clearance, however if one is required then the cohabitant has to give written authorization for this (which I did not). In addition, the beginning of the questionnaire states that if the applicant has a security freeze on their consumer / credit reports (which I do) then they may not be able to complete the investigation. I assume that this is also the case for someone listed as a cohabitant. I’m beginning to wonder if this whole thing has been some sort of miscommunication? The one part I’m having trouble figuring out is why would they tell my fiancé that “on paper” he cannot say he is living/residing with me. If I contacted the HR department would they be able to give me any information on why this is?

If they’re saying he cannot list you as a cohabitant they’re dead wrong. Section 17.3 also requires the cohab’s SSN. Do they mean he cannot list you in the residential section?

Not to be blunt here, but this is something he should be sorting out and asking the HR POC directly, and ask for the answer and reasons why in writing, that way if it comes back on him he at least can point to the source.

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Hi Marko, I hadn’t replied to your last response right away because I was
trying to gather more info regarding this matter and I’m afraid my issue is
getting more complicated. Either there was a huge miscommunication between
the HR POC and my fiance or he is making stuff up.I feel he may be trying
to force me into resolving my financial issues which I plan on, however, my
current income situation doesn’t allow for that at this time, but it’s
something I’m working towards. He’s absolutely convinced he’ll lose his job
over my credit history if on paper it says that we are “living and
residing” together. He will not address the matter with the HR department
because he says he does not want to attract any further attention to
himself and raise any red flags that could jeopardize the job. Hence why I
am left to investigate this on my own. I contemplated contacting the HR POC
myself, but I’m worried it would create problems for him.

Also, I was under the impression that his security clearance level was not
Top Secret, but he is telling me that it is. He is not working for the CIA
or FBI, he is just a naval architect/marine engineer for a Naval Shipyard.
I read that a Top Secret security clearance investigation consists of a
more detailed background and credit history check for cohabitants than for
a lower level clearance. He also says that he did not give them my
birthdate or social security info and that he only listed my name, address
and contact info. Is this all true? Could they have just run my name or
would they have absolutely needed my SS# in order to get into my credit

I’m not sure if this matters, but I have security freezes on all of my
credit reports to prevent just anyone from accessing my info without my
consent. Could they have accessed my credit anyways or would they have
needed me to provide written consent to do so?

I sincerely apologize for all the questions and I greatly appreciate you
taking the time to write me. I’m highly concerned about all this and am
desperately trying to figure things out because if I am unable to resolve
this problem it will end our relationship.

Thank you again for all of your help and I’m looking forward to hearing
back from you.

Sounds like you need to either have a talk with the fiance’ or just let it go and let him worry about it. I can say that a SSN is required to run a credit report. Regardless, your debts do not impact him if he is not named on them as a legally responsible party. Good luck!

It appears likely that he isn’t exactly being upfront with you.
Maybe you should find a more honest cohabitor.