Written by Allison Spurgin, AFC Candidate® | November 11, 2019
Recently the federal government instituted a change to the way they use servicemembers’ credit reports. Previously, the Department of Defense only checked credit reports when servicemembers’ security clearances were up for renewal. This meant that depending on your clearance level, the military was only looking at credit reports and scores once every 5 or ten years. That is no longer the case: now the Department of Defense will be continuously monitoring service member’s financial health.
Impacts on Servicemembers
This new policy will have an impact on servicemembers who are on shaky financial footing, even if they are working to overcome it. Depending on job specialty and clearance level, this policy could affect retention and career progression.
Servicemembers with access to classified information can have their background reviewed at any time, and this might include an automated review of their credit file. The Department of Defense will be looking for key signs that a military member is in financial trouble, including being in excessive debt, falling behind on payments, and a high debt to income ratio.
What You Can Do
To that end, it is a good idea to pull your credit reports and check out what your financial history looks like. Annualcreditreport.com is the only free, official site where you can pull your credit report.
You can pull a report from each of the three agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) once per year. To keep consistent, you can pull a report every four months and rotate through the agencies so you consistently keep up to speed on your credit history.
Financial counselors at Family Readiness Centers on military installations are also able to pull a credit report and assist with interpreting the details of your credit history.