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Nationwide, Clear and Secure

Can some personal misconduct threaten a security clearance?

Everyone makes mistakes. However, for a Pennsylvania resident who holds a security clearance, certain errors in judgment could have embarrassing and costly consequences. For instance, an "innocent" encounter on the internet could lead to someone attempting to compromise such an individual.

Back in 2016, a phenomenon called "sextortion" received attention through an article in the Military Times. For instance, an online encounter that involves the exchange of nude photographs could result in a blackmail scheme. The individual with a security clearance may recognize that this type of personal misconduct could have serious ramifications when it comes to keeping that clearance and/or his or her job.

The worst thing that a person could do under these circumstances is give in to the threats. What may begin as providing a sum of money could turn into a request for sensitive information. Instead, the clearance holder is expected to report the incident to the appropriate parties. The risk of any professional or personal repercussions could be less than keeping the blackmail attempt secret. In many cases, the government will find out, and if the individual failed to come forward before that time, the repercussions would be serious.

Even though people holding clearances are held to a higher standard, they are not expected to be perfect. Reporting an indiscretion that led to a blackmail threat could allow the individual to keep his or her security clearance. Before taking that step, it would probably be a good idea for a Pennsylvania resident to gain an understanding of his or her rights under the circumstances, especially if the incident could lead to other ramifications.

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