Mandatory credit checks
On January 29, 2018, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) implemented mandatory credit checks (also called financial inquiries) as part of its personnel security processes. Learn more about mandatory credit checks and how an applicant gives consent.
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About mandatory credit checks
In October 2014, the Government of Canada updated its policies on the security of government information. Part of this update included the Treasury Board Standard on Security Screening, meant to ensure security screening in the Government of Canada is more effective and rigorous and allows easier transfers of reliability status and security clearances between departments and agencies. As a result, credit checks are mandatory for all levels of security screening.
Purpose of a credit check
Conducting a credit check as part of a security assessment helps determine an individual's reliability, particularly as it relates to their ability to meet their financial obligations. While the status of an individual's financial situation may not affect their ability to do a job, financial obligations or pressures could pose a security risk.
It is important to note that assessing an individual's financial situation is just 1 part of the overall assessment. PSPC also assesses an applicant's background information, education and professional credentials, personal and professional references and criminal record.
Validity of an existing reliability status or security clearance
Mandatory credit checks do not affect existing PSPC-issued personnel reliability status and security clearances.
Cost of the financial inquiries
There is no cost to the applicant or the organization for a credit check. The cost associated with a financial inquiry is covered by PSPC.
No impact on an individual's credit history
PSPC's inquiry is similar to that commonly done by private sector companies when screening employees. Credit checks conducted for the purpose of security screenings are “masked,” meaning there is no negative effect on an individual's credit bureau file and a PSPC credit history request will not include the applicant's credit score.
PSPC is committed to protecting the privacy of personal information.
The credit check results (credit history report) are kept confidential on the PSPC applicant's security screening file. PSPC stores personnel information in accordance with the terms and conditions of the provision of the federal Privacy Act, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's (TBS) Policy on Privacy Protection, as well as the Directive on Privacy Practices.
Credit bureau service providers are aware of the Government of Canada's expectations when it comes to protecting the privacy of personal information and the importance of offering secure services to Canadians.
An applicant's credit history report information is never shared with the applicant's company security officer or alternate. PSPC contacts the applicant directly whenever there is a need to validate financial information.
However, PSPC may share, through government approved secure means, an individual's credit history report information with another Government of Canada department or agency in cases when an applicant's reliability status or security clearance needs to be transferred.
Applying the process
Who does the credit checks
PSPC submits a credit check request to a service provider (credit bureau) and receives what is referred to as a credit history report. This report contains a record on an individual's past borrowing and repaying history, including information about late payments and bankruptcy as well as a comprehensive history of current credit or credit that has been used in the past 6 years.
PSPC reviews the credit history report provided by the credit bureau to determine the type and significance of the financial concerns.
The credit check is one of many factors considered when assessing risk to government information, assets and sites. PSPC will also verify an applicant's:
- education and professional credentials
- personal and professional references
- criminal record
All of these factors are taken into account during the assessment to determine whether to grant a reliability status or security clearance to an applicant.
In general, this additional check should not cause any further delays in the security screening processing times.
Delays can be expected if the report contains information that requires a more in-depth assessment. If the credit check reveals areas of concern, an additional assessment will be made. A security screening interview with the applicant may be required to validate or gather more information.
Consult Security screening interviews for more information.
When a credit check is required
Credit checks are mandatory for applicants who require a new, an update (renewal), or an upgrade of their personnel security screening clearances. This requirement applies to all levels of security screening requests:
- reliability status
- security clearance, which includes 2 levels
- top secret
A credit check is not required for transfer, duplication and reactivation of reliability status or security clearances.
A credit check is also not required for supplemental personnel security screening requests (for example when an employee has a change of name or marital status).
A transfer request will not require a credit check unless:
- there is a change of circumstance
- the security screening results are more than 5 years old
- the security screening was not previously done in accordance with the Treasury Board Standard on security screening
A duplication request will not require a credit check unless there is a change of circumstance.
Consult Annex A: Guidelines on company security officer and alternate company security officer responsibilities – section VI.D Change of circumstances of the Contract Security Manual to learn more about a change of circumstance.
Used when an organization must transfer the employee's personnel security clearance held by another Government of Canada department or agency
Used when an organization must duplicate the employee's personnel security clearance held by another private sector organization registered PSPC's Contract Security Program (CSP).
It is recommended that company security officers (CSOs) or alternates submitting a transfer request for applicants with an existing reliability status or security clearance granted more than 5 years ago, request the applicants to provide consent in the Online Industrial Security Services (OLISS) portal or check box 3 in section C of the Personnel screening, consent and authorization form (TBS/SCT 330-23E).
For duplication and transfer requests, or in cases where a subject security interview would be required, PSPC would verify that consent for a credit check had previously been provided.
How the applicant gives consent
The applicant must consent to having their credit checked for the security screening assessment on PSPC's OLISS portal or on the Personnel screening, consent and authorization form (TBS/SCT 330-23E).
The applicant must:
- check the online consent button (if using OLISS) or check box 3 in section C of the form
- sign and initial the form
- when using the online portal, the electronic signature option is recommended
- submit the online application or the form to the CSO or the alternate company security officer (ACSO)
For more information about the electronic signature option, read the program's communiqué New features added to the online industrial security services portal.
Consult the company security officer's guide to completing and submitting personnel security screening forms.
Learn how to complete Section C—Consent and verification of the TBS/SCT 300-23E form.
No additional forms
There are no additional documents associated with a credit check. The applicant provides consent when applying online for a personnel security screening or security clearance or by checking box 3 of section C of the Personnel screening, consent and authorization form (TBS/SCT 330-23E) form.
Refusal by applicant to consent to a credit check
Refusal to provide consent will result in an automatic rejection of the application.
Learn more about mandatory credit checks
The CSP offers free webinar training for organizations bidding and working on government contracts with security requirements. To help you better understand the mandatory credit check process, a pre-recorded webinar presented by a subject matter expert is available to you. To request a copy, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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