Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
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Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by Alex Frakt » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:38 pm

The moderators have discovered that three recent threads devoted to Whole Life Insurance were posted by sock puppets (people claiming to be something they are not to push a product or service).

This is not the first time this has happened here. It appears that the popularity of this forum in terms of google search results for those researching whole life has made us a target of insurance agents who wish to muddy the waters of the general advice posted here on whole life - i.e., it is only appropriate for unusual and specific specific situations, such as estate planning for those whose assets are tied up in a family business. Otherwise, the preferred solution is to use term life for your insurance needs and invest the difference.
Last edited by Alex Frakt on Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by dk01 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:46 pm

Hi,

If there can't be a discussion on WL then please either change the forums posting guide from "insurance" to "non-whole life insurance". Or in the posting guide state "We do not allow discussions on whole life.".

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Post by Alex Frakt » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:58 pm

dk01 wrote:Hi,

If there can't be a discussion on WL then please either change the forums posting guide from "insurance" to "non-whole life insurance". Or in the posting guide state "We do not allow discussions on whole life.".


A current search of "whole life" on this forum shows "about 1,160 results": http://www.google.com/search?q=%22whole ... eheads.org

dk01 is one of those sock puppets. Someone forgot to ban him or her, I'll take care of that now.

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Post by mephistophles » Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:48 pm

Thanks Alex,
Whole Life, market timing, gold, loaded funds and individual stock purchases are topics that often attract trolls.
ole meph

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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by dm200 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:02 pm

Alex Frakt wrote:The moderators have discovered that three recent threads devoted to Whole Life Insurance were posted by sock puppets (people claiming to be something they are not to push a product or service).

This is not the first time this has happened here. It appears that the popularity of this forum in terms of google search results for those researching whole life has made us a target of insurance agents who wish to muddy the waters of the general advice posted here on whole life - i.e., it is only appropriate for unusual and specific specific situations, such as estate planning for those whose assets are tied up in a family business. Otherwise, the preferred solution is to use term life for your insurance needs and invest the difference.


Help me "connect the dots". So, these folks push a general product or service. How do they personally benefit? Private messages? Links to specific products/services? Other?

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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by Alex Frakt » Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:42 pm

dm200 wrote:Help me "connect the dots". So, these folks push a general product or service. How do they personally benefit? Private messages? Links to specific products/services? Other?

Private messages. If anyone receives a PM from someone offering to sell them insurance services, please let me or a moderator know via PM.

Also there are only around a half dozen people who have done this since we started out. The problem is that they tend to come back with different usernames after we catch them. One agent is particularly notorious among the moderators for this: his usernames so far include Insurance Guy, Insurance Man, Insurance, MScary07, LynnSwann, abceater, J.smit and insurance1288. Unfortunately his ISP assigns IP addresses dynamically so we haven't been able to do a blanket ban.

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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by Mel Lindauer » Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:45 pm

dm200 wrote:
Alex Frakt wrote:The moderators have discovered that three recent threads devoted to Whole Life Insurance were posted by sock puppets (people claiming to be something they are not to push a product or service).

This is not the first time this has happened here. It appears that the popularity of this forum in terms of google search results for those researching whole life has made us a target of insurance agents who wish to muddy the waters of the general advice posted here on whole life - i.e., it is only appropriate for unusual and specific specific situations, such as estate planning for those whose assets are tied up in a family business. Otherwise, the preferred solution is to use term life for your insurance needs and invest the difference.


Help me "connect the dots". So, these folks push a general product or service. How do they personally benefit? Private messages? Links to specific products/services? Other?


In addition to the Private Message method of contacting forum members, some folks (or companies) are paid ""flacks" (publicists) for companies or entire industries and/or their products. It's a form of "advertising" disguised as "information" or "awareness raising". The idea is that the industry benefits from increased sales of the product being pushed. Posting shill posts on a forum is one way of earning their pay.
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Forum "shills"

Post by Taylor Larimore » Wed Jun 30, 2010 4:41 pm

A problem with "shill" posts is that they misrepresent the truth--not only about themselves but about facts as well.

Fortunately, most Bogleheads are knowledgeable in financial matters and unscrupulous posters are soon reported to moderators for investigation.
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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by nisiprius » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:06 pm

Alex Frakt wrote:[One agent is particularly notorious among the moderators for this: his usernames so far include Insurance Guy, Insurance Man, Insurance, MScary07, LynnSwann, abceater, J.smit and insurance1288. Unfortunately his ISP assigns IP addresses dynamically so we haven't been able to do a blanket ban.
Thanks for confirming this... I had wondered about a certain similarity in style between some of them.
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thanks for the warning

Post by patriciamgr2 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:26 pm

I really appreciate the moderators keeping on top of these issues. So many people who are new to investing come here for the unbiased, objective advice from other investors.

There are lots of places on the net for advisors to market products--I don't think this forum should be one of them.

Thanks very much.

patricia

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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by segfault » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:43 pm

Alex Frakt wrote:One agent is particularly notorious among the moderators for this: his usernames so far include Insurance Guy, Insurance Man, Insurance, MScary07, LynnSwann, abceater, J.smit and insurance1288. Unfortunately his ISP assigns IP addresses dynamically so we haven't been able to do a blanket ban.


If he/she can be personally identified, it would seem that a report to the companies whose insurance he sells would be in order. Surely they don't condone or allow their agents to spam?

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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by dm200 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:16 pm

segfault wrote:
Alex Frakt wrote:One agent is particularly notorious among the moderators for this: his usernames so far include Insurance Guy, Insurance Man, Insurance, MScary07, LynnSwann, abceater, J.smit and insurance1288. Unfortunately his ISP assigns IP addresses dynamically so we haven't been able to do a blanket ban.


If he/she can be personally identified, it would seem that a report to the companies whose insurance he sells would be in order. Surely they don't condone or allow their agents to spam?


:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

That's a good one!

:twisted:

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Post by Taurean » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:05 pm

this thread should be converted to a 'sticky'.

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Post by Steelersfan » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:11 pm

Good heads up and I hope we posters continue to alert the Mods about these types of PM's.

The only thing better than the quality of the posters on this site are the quality of the moderators.

Kudos!!!!!!

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Post by Scottner » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:17 pm

Do you have any website settings to force a new thread from a new user into a moderator holding queue if it contains words like "whole" and "insurance"?

Just a thought if the people are getting around the ban by getting a new IP address.

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Post by grabiner » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:31 pm

Scottner wrote:Do you have any website settings to force a new thread from a new user into a moderator holding queue if it contains words like "whole" and "insurance"?


More specifically, "permanent insurance" should be a red flag, just as spam keywords are; this appears to be a name used for the product primarily by insurance salespeople, because the usual term, "whole life", has a bad name.
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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by Ed 2 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:49 pm

Alex Frakt wrote:The moderators have discovered that three recent threads devoted to Whole Life Insurance were posted by sock puppets (people claiming to be something they are not to push a product or service).

This is not the first time this has happened here. It appears that the popularity of this forum in terms of google search results for those researching whole life has made us a target of insurance agents who wish to muddy the waters of the general advice posted here on whole life - i.e., it is only appropriate for unusual and specific specific situations, such as estate planning for those whose assets are tied up in a family business. Otherwise, the preferred solution is to use term life for your insurance needs and invest the difference.


Thank you Alex.

Term life insurance only.

I smell this people ( also a gold bugs too) from a distance. :wink:
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Post by 555 » Thu Jul 01, 2010 1:45 am

One thing people should be aware of is that even though these shills aren't going to "win" their debate here, when you engage them in debate you may be sharpening up their skills for when they target a more vulnerable audience.

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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by ruralavalon » Thu Jul 01, 2010 6:02 am

Alex Frakt wrote: The problem is that they tend to come back with different usernames after we catch them. One agent is particularly notorious among the moderators for this: his usernames so far include Insurance Guy, Insurance Man, Insurance, MScary07, LynnSwann, abceater, J.smit and insurance1288. Unfortunately his ISP assigns IP addresses dynamically so we haven't been able to do a blanket ban.

Great job, kudos, I really appreciate the hard work that the Moderators are doing.
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I wanted to throw my thanks

Post by Hexdump » Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:25 am

into this thread.
The moderators do a terrific job keeping this site clean.

hex

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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by Ted Valentine » Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:23 pm

Mel Lindauer wrote:
dm200 wrote:
Alex Frakt wrote:The moderators have discovered that three recent threads devoted to Whole Life Insurance were posted by sock puppets (people claiming to be something they are not to push a product or service).

This is not the first time this has happened here. It appears that the popularity of this forum in terms of google search results for those researching whole life has made us a target of insurance agents who wish to muddy the waters of the general advice posted here on whole life - i.e., it is only appropriate for unusual and specific specific situations, such as estate planning for those whose assets are tied up in a family business. Otherwise, the preferred solution is to use term life for your insurance needs and invest the difference.


Help me "connect the dots". So, these folks push a general product or service. How do they personally benefit? Private messages? Links to specific products/services? Other?


In addition to the Private Message method of contacting forum members, some folks (or companies) are paid ""flacks" (publicists) for companies or entire industries and/or their products. It's a form of "advertising" disguised as "information" or "awareness raising". The idea is that the industry benefits from increased sales of the product being pushed. Posting shill posts on a forum is one way of earning their pay.


What about posts about active ETFs?

viewtopic.php?t=57194
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Post by grok87 » Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:42 pm

555 wrote:One thing people should be aware of is that even though these shills aren't going to "win" their debate here, when you engage them in debate you may be sharpening up their skills for when they target a more vulnerable audience.

I agree one shouldn't debate with people like this. As always, I think Gandalf said it best:
Gandalf wrote:A witless worm have you become. Therefore be silent, and keep your forked tongue behind your teeth. I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a serving-man till the lightning falls. See... here is a snake!

:)
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Post by sschullo » Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:43 pm

Perhaps the entire country is creeping with whole life sales, but not this site. This site is one tiny refuge from the sharks!
Thanks Alex!
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Something to remember

Post by Taylor Larimore » Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:49 pm

Hi Bogleheads:

A useful saying:

If you wrestle a pig you end-up with mud on yourself.
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle

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Post by Steelersfan » Thu Jul 01, 2010 5:10 pm

Or, as that great American philosopher, Woody Allen, said:

"Never argue with a fool. They will lower you to their level and then beat you with experience."

He wrote this well before the days of internet forums, or he might have had something to include about moderators and message boards.

:lol:

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Post by bdunklau » Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:45 am

Let me know if anyone receives a PM from me offering to sell them insurance.

:lol:

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Re: Forum "shills"

Post by BruceM » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:09 pm

Taylor Larimore wrote:A problem with "shill" posts is that they misrepresent the truth--not only about themselves but about facts as well.


But they are sooooo much fun to beat up on

BruceM

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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by stratton » Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:12 pm

Alex Frakt wrote:The moderators have discovered that three recent threads devoted to Whole Life Insurance were posted by sock puppets (people claiming to be something they are not to push a product or service).

This is not the first time this has happened here. It appears that the popularity of this forum in terms of google search results for those researching whole life has made us a target of insurance agents who wish to muddy the waters of the general advice posted here on whole life - i.e., it is only appropriate for unusual and specific specific situations, such as estate planning for those whose assets are tied up in a family business. Otherwise, the preferred solution is to use term life for your insurance needs and invest the difference.

Got enough info to file a complaint with a state insurance commissioner?

Paul

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Post by fishndoc » Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:14 pm

555 wrote:One thing people should be aware of is that even though these shills aren't going to "win" their debate here, when you engage them in debate you may be sharpening up their skills for when they target a more vulnerable audience.

I have to agree with Bruce - the "combat" between these trolls and Bogleheads can be downright entertaining, and I bet most of these guys were not expecting the reception they receive here.

And, while I guess it might help them sharpen their sales pitch, I think it also drives the real facts home to the readers of this forum.

And, there are rare situations where permanent life insurance is appropriate (add funding for a special needs child to those already mentioned)
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Post by idahospud » Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:05 pm

mephistophles wrote:Thanks Alex,
Whole Life, market timing, gold, loaded funds and individual stock purchases are topics that often attract trolls.
ole meph


Oh how I miss the threads were ole meph, single-handed, beat back the slimy arguments of the Whole Life Insurance 'sock puppets'.

Those threads probably kept up mephistophles into the late hours of many evenings for days on end...but I was amazed at his expertise on the subject.

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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:19 pm

From a long overdue request, this thread is now a sticky.

Taylor Larimore wrote:A problem with "shill" posts is that they misrepresent the truth--not only about themselves but about facts as well.

Fortunately, most Bogleheads are knowledgeable in financial matters and unscrupulous posters are soon reported to moderators for investigation.

I didn't know what a "shill" was. After some research (and questions to the experts), here's the answer:

A shill, plant, or stooge is a person who helps a person or organization without disclosing that he or she has a close relationship with that person or organization. An insurance shill is someone who posts comments related to insurance products, but with the intent to promote those products in-lieu of the member's best interest. Often a shill will start an insurance thread on the forum, posing as a novice, thus giving other shills and sockpuppets the chance to chime in and promote a particular insurance product or company.

(A sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception. The term refers to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock. A significant difference between the use of a pseudonym and the creation of a sockpuppet is that the sockpuppet poses as an independent third-party unaffiliated with the puppeteer.)
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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by abuss368 » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:32 pm

Or disguised as the LEAP process!

Another marketing gimmick pushing whole life!
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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by dhodson » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:33 pm

yea i see they removed the posts from one recent person pretending to be 22 and wanting whole life.

they used to anger me but now that im more knowledgeable, i dont mind beating them down especially since i believe most people need to know why what they say is BS. If we dont educate people on why these products are poor investments, then what happens is our colleagues go out and cant defend themselves against this garbage. Additionally there are so many groups like Peachtree Planning for instance that pretend to be fiduciary investment advisors but really are just a front for Guardian so you dont always know when you are dealing with someone who really is just an agent with an insurance agenda.

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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by dhodson » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:34 pm

LEAP isnt the only one. Living Balance is another such garbage program. Never let them put your financial info into these programs.

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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by nisiprius » Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:19 pm

LadyGeek wrote:I didn't know what a "shill" was.
Originally, a shill was someone at a carnival game who's in cahoots with the game operator. The game is rigged and the operator lets the shill pretend to win and get a prize so as to encourage others to play. Or the shill may simply stroll around the carnival carrying a huge stuffed toy that he or she has apparently won, to arouse the greed of small children.

The shill may be someone who pretends to be betting on or participating in a three-card monte game. The purpose is to encourage the mark (victim) to see that lots of people are playing, so it must be OK.

Remembering that "you can't cheat an honest man," the shill may also encourage the mark to cheat the dealer. the dealer's technique isn't good, or the card has a visible scratch on it or something, so it's easy to win. The shill wants to bring the mark into partnership with him for one last giant bet in which they are going to clean out the dealer.

All strictly from reading old novels and such. Never seen a real three-card-monte game and the argot may be out of date. Of course I have seen shills carrying huge stuffed toys around carnivals, and I was one of the little kids that desperately wanted to win one.
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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:50 pm

One other point: If a member has been disciplined by the moderators for being an insurance shill, "insurance shill / spammer" is now being inserted into that member's Location profile.

The Location field is visible in all posts, the member list, and user profile; so you can be aware of this action. This also applies to spammers.

Click on "Members" at the top right, then "Joined" to see the most recent members sorted first.
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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by norookie » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:59 pm

Thanks for the info LGeek! :D
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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by honkeoki » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:11 pm

LadyGeek wrote:One other point: If a member has been disciplined by the moderators for being an insurance shill, "insurance shill / spammer" is now being inserted into that member's Location profile.

The Location field is visible in all posts, the member list, and user profile; so you can be aware of this action. This also applies to spammers.


Don't know who came up with this but this is a FANTASTIC idea!
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Re: shills

Post by Nearing_Destination » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:24 pm

Actually, I thought a previous posting regarding a purchase of a house in NC by a Wells Fargo poster [tea_lover](he had only a few postings before) might have been a shill posting (to potentially encourage others he might have sent there to buy) with his insistance on purchase of a certain house --- directly from the builder-- despite a number of posters indicating the new-buyer premium seemed high, and other homes in the area were indicated by other posters to be significantly lower, although built relatively recently. (The OP clearly indicated he was a mid-twentysomething employee at Wells Fargo.)


see posting: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=87362

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Re: shills

Post by Mel Lindauer » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:30 pm

Cheap_rookie wrote:Actually, I thought a previous posting regarding a purchase of a house in NC by a Wells Fargo poster (he had only a few postings before) might have been a shill posting (to potentially encourage others he might have sent there to buy) with his insistance on purchase of a certain house --- directly from the builder-- despite a number of posters indicating the new-buyer premium seemed high, and other homes in the area were indicated by other posters to be significantly lower, although built relatively recently. (The OP clearly indicated he was a mid-twentysomething employee at Wells Fargo.)


Whenever you see something that appears to be out of line or that smacks of shilling, just let me or another one of the Mods know and we'll look into it.
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Re: shills

Post by Nearing_Destination » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:32 pm

Mel Lindauer wrote:
Cheap_rookie wrote:Actually, I thought a previous posting regarding a purchase of a house in NC by a Wells Fargo poster (he had only a few postings before) might have been a shill posting (to potentially encourage others he might have sent there to buy) with his insistance on purchase of a certain house --- directly from the builder-- despite a number of posters indicating the new-buyer premium seemed high, and other homes in the area were indicated by other posters to be significantly lower, although built relatively recently. (The OP clearly indicated he was a mid-twentysomething employee at Wells Fargo.)


Whenever you see something that appears to be out of line or that smacks of shilling, just let me or another one of the Mods know and we'll look into it.



edited to include the forum posting

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Re: shills

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:49 pm

Mel Lindauer wrote:Whenever you see something that appears to be out of line or that smacks of shilling, just let me or another one of the Mods know and we'll look into it.

Which is a reminder for the "other" sticky: REPORTING VIOLATIONS AND UNWELCOME PMs, which will flag the moderators

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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by grok87 » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:08 pm

nisiprius wrote: Of course I have seen shills carrying huge stuffed toys around carnivals, and I was one of the little kids that desperately wanted to win one.


From the movie adventureland
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1091722/


Paulette: This is James, and he's applying for a games job.

Bobby: Games! Oh, great, good. Let's get you set up.

James: Actually, Bobby, I'd prefer a rides job,if it's still open.


Bobby: You look more like a games guy, plus I've already got out the games application, so... All right?

James: Okay. Yeah, no. I just...

Bobby: My name is Bobby. Okay, rules. No freebies,
no free turns for your friends,
-no free upgrades, no free food.
-So, just nothing is free here.
Everybody has to pay for everything.
And more importantly,
working in games,
no one ever wins a giant-ass panda.

Paulette: Yeah, we don't have that many left.

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Re:

Post by DRiP Guy » Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:47 am

dk01 wrote:Hi,

If there can't be a discussion on WL then please either change the forums posting guide from "insurance" to "non-whole life insurance". Or in the posting guide state "We do not allow discussions on whole life.".


Puhleaase -- no need at all to ban the topic, HOWEVER, when folks like you show up with all 16 posts relating only to WL, then one needs to wonder, especially if all posts are from an advocacy position. So let's at least just do honest full disclosure -- Do you work in the industry, or otherwise benefit from the sale of WL insurance?


(Myself: I don't work for ANY related business or otherwise stand to personally gain a dime from any of my posts or positions taken on Bogleheads.)

dhodson
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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by dhodson » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:07 am

i always like it when people who push whole life like to pretend that isnt allowed to be talked about here just bc we show the truth about it. It is a very very poor investment choice. It is fine as a permanent death benefit if that is what you want or need. There are so many posts here about whole life, its ridiculous to say that posts are discouraged about it.

fishndoc
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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by fishndoc » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:50 am

Puhleaase -- no need at all to ban the topic,

1+
I also hate the whole life shills, but have to say I usually learn something from most of the threads, even if it is just info I can give friends when they stumble upon a friendly "Financial Advisor" who is wanting them to "invest" in a whole life policy.

And, there are a few situations where permanent insurance is needed, and the legitimate insurance agents who post here usually point that out.
Last edited by fishndoc on Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
" Successful investing involves doing just a few things right, and avoiding serious mistakes." - J. Bogle

BruDude
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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by BruDude » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:58 am

dhodson wrote:i always like it when people who push whole life like to pretend that isnt allowed to be talked about here just bc we show the truth about it. It is a very very poor investment choice. It is fine as a permanent death benefit if that is what you want or need. There are so many posts here about whole life, its ridiculous to say that posts are discouraged about it.


Life insurance is not an investment anyway, no matter how many people want it to be one.

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dandan14
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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by dandan14 » Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:32 pm

I agree that a lot can be learned from the threads. I'd like to suggest that we archive them in a special "shills archive" section. If nothing else, it is entertaining.

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JPH
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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by JPH » Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:06 pm

Get a rope!
While the moments do summersaults into eternity | Cling to their coattails and beg them to stay - Townes Van Zandt

Anon1234
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Re: Be Wary of Whole Life threads

Post by Anon1234 » Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:03 pm

LadyGeek wrote:One other point: If a member has been disciplined by the moderators for being an insurance shill, "insurance shill / spammer" is now being inserted into that member's Location profile.

The Location field is visible in all posts, the member list, and user profile; so you can be aware of this action. This also applies to spammers.

Click on "Members" at the top right, then "Joined" to see the most recent members sorted first.


Very impressive that you are knocking them down at that rate. Thanks for the effort.

How do you ID spammers with 0 posts? Maybe they don't count once deleted?

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