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They do threaten legal action if you lie about something on your SF-86.

Lying about something on your federal forms would make you vulnerable to blackmail, so that would definitely be something that the investigators would try to turn up.

In my case, I was extremely open and honest with the main investigator that I was interviewed by, including the things I did during college with recreational pharmaceuticals. I told all my friends to just "tell the truth" about what they saw happen.

I think my biggest benefit there was telling the story about how I saw that kind of stuff tear lives apart, and turn people who had been best friends into worst enemies, and the negative follow-on impacts of what happens when you can't pay your rent, you can't pay your electric bills, etc... because you have this debt to someone else that suddenly must be repaid this afternoon.

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