Stockbroker Joseph Tarnofsky Learns Carrying Debt Is A Career Killer

Joseph Tarnofsky fired

By Jill Krasny

Slacking off isn't the only way to kiss your job goodbye. Carrying around boatloads of debt can do it too, as one stockbroker learned the hard way.

Lawyer and blogger Bill Singer writes about Joseph Tarnofsky (pictured above), who never told his bosses (or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which regulates brokers) that he was up to his knees in debt and even had judgments against him for wage garnishments. The amounts in question were an impressive $21,721.17 and $10,957.66 in unpaid credit card bills. Six months later, Tarnofsky received four more judgments against him for unpaid credit card bills worth nearly $54,000.

As if owing all that money wasn't bad enough, Tarnofsky made the fatal mistake of never notifying his employer, AXA Advisors, they needed to look out for wage garnishment papers. The first time it happened, the company wasn't pleased. The second time it happened, Tarnofsky was promptly booted out.

It's safe to say debt is never a good thing, so we decided to ask John Ulzheimer, credit expert and president of, whether it's really the career kiss of death.

More: U.S. Puts Limits On Employee Background Checks

"[Cases like Tarnofsky's] are exactly why many employers perform background investigations on their prospective employees, which normally include credit reports and criminal records," he said over email. "Many employers will choose to look the other way on minor issues like old criminal records or poor credit reports, but not many of them will turn their heads to dishonesty."

He added, "The employer is likely to find out about it anyway, and hiding it just compounds the problem.

One of those reasons [employers aren't fans of your debt] is the likelihood that the defaulted debt can become a judgment and then a wage garnishment.

"That drags the employer unwillingly into the middle of a contentious situation where they are required to hold back a portion of the employee's pay," he said. "I can't imagine any employer that wants to be involved in doing that."

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September 23 2012 at 11:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Doesn't a huge debt also factor in a possible temptation to find inventive ways to pad one's wallet? As a boss I don't think I'd want someone who is deeply in debt to be handling my money for me.

September 20 2012 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So if you are overweight you don't deserve a job, if you have been on unemployment you don't deserve a job, and now if you have debt you don't deserve a job. Geesh so that just leaves the skinny, rich employed people as being the only ones deserving of a job. No wonder so many people are out of work....

September 20 2012 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If this guy can't manage his own money, I certainly wouldn't want him managing mine.

September 20 2012 at 11:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to CHUCKIE's comment

lol Amen

September 20 2012 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Easy credit undid the economy in the 1920s, as it has now. We learned NOTHING from history.

September 20 2012 at 10:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ann Marie Holt

Brokerages have been able to do this for many ,many years. I was a broker for 15 years and they could do the same thing in the 80's. Would you want a broker handling your money is he was drowning in debt. Next the temptation to steal then...

September 20 2012 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And if it weren't for employers firing/laying off/ under paying and corrupt governments that allow loan sharking interest rates there would be no problem with debt! STOP PAYING TAXES, STOP PAYING BILLS, STOP WORKING!! Bring THEM down to THEIR knees! They WILL do it to us!

September 20 2012 at 8:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wesnwendy's comment

Hey, wendy, this guy had a good job, he got himself into this mess. Most likely it was from trying to live beyond his means to show the world how successful he was. Whatever the reason, he wasn't in this mess because of lack of a good job, or from sharking interest rates. He's supposed to be smart about finances, so he should have known well ahead of time how credit cards work, and that you do need to pay your debts.

September 20 2012 at 9:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have a feeling this might be why I have not been able to get a job in the last FOUR YEARS. While I have never had sterling credit (and never been involved in a garnishment situation), my references have always been good. Never burnt any bridges, I'm easy to get along with, dependable, a loyal company person. I also NEVER play the victim, but iin this economy it seems employers look for any excuse or blemish not to hire somebody. I went from making 80k per year in the automobile business to being a landscape laborer, and it seems like that's all I can get. I'm really at wits end. I hope something changes in the next four years...

September 20 2012 at 6:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this is the generation that spends all its income. this is why obama is so attractive to them...

September 20 2012 at 3:52 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to WarehouseFlats's comment

this man is a stockbroker and more than likley a republican, inflation has caused wages that woould have good pay in 1980 to be starvation pay in 2112 if the cost living is more than you make, while your boss is robbing you or moving his plant to china to enjoy slave labor costs,obama is attractive to them . this person has two times the median wage in debt please don't try to blame obama it is the republicans who spent more while giving back hundreds of billions to the rich in tax br4eaks not the democrats.

September 20 2012 at 4:50 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to therondor's comment

How do you know this guy is a "republican" bright eyes? lol

September 20 2012 at 5:49 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down

For this I can understand why he was let go. For obviously he has a problem and if he got too desperate then would he steal from his employer considering he never notified them to begin with? After all he was obviously given a warning the first time. Hopefully he will seek help for whatever his problem is and the reasons why he accumulated so much debt to begin with.

September 20 2012 at 2:05 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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