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Dan's Blog

What’s That Phishy Smell in Your Inbox? 🎣

August 18, 2020

For years we have warned about the “Fishy” sales agent smell in the staff lounge (see this and this). But in the age of Covid-19, sales agents are aggressively targeting teachers via their school email addresses. In many cases, they are behaving like district or state pension agency approved experts. 


PERA is a lead generation organization that encourages sales agents to behave like district approved pension experts. Here’s a video touting their services. Beginning at the 1 minute 26 second mark, PERA declares “He (the sales agent) was no longer a sales person. He was now the hero. The expert approved by the district to help them make their retirement dreams a reality.”

Keep in mind, these are not fiduciaries (some are but not all the time, which of course is maddening) who must put the interest of the client first. These are sales agents mining email addresses for commission gold. It is highly doubtful any school district is approving these “heroes.” 

High School Teacher Almost Fell Victim

Chad, a California high school teacher, is a financially savvy friend of 403bwise who has appeared on our podcast. Last week I got the following text from him:

My text back: “Total Trojan Horse to sell products.” This is the term we use for these deceptive sales practices. We did a recent pod on the myriad of tactics companies and sales agents employ.

You can listen to Chad describe his experience in our latest pod. The most striking takeaway was the aggressiveness of the agent. It took awhile for him to admit he wasn't a fiduciary or he wasn't with the state pension agency. 

File an FTC Complaint

Teachers: Help stamp out these practices by filing a complaint with the FTC. It takes about 5 minutest to submit (see red at top). Also share screen shots of these emails with the 403bwise Facebook Group

School Districts Can Fix This

School districts should move to a single vendor through a competitive bidding process to stop this nonsense. This way all employees would know that the district is served by one vendor who may deploy salaried representatives to help teachers and school employees, not try and trick them. School districts have the power to fix it. They should use it. 

If you smell something, please email it to: phishy(at)403bwise.org

Stay wise. Stay well.

Related Podcast:

What's That Phishy Smell in Your Inbox? Across the country teachers are being spammed by phony financial professionals. A savvy high school teacher almost took the bait.   Listen Now »