The New York Times today published a front-page article that discusses allegations that weak financial advisor designation programs contribute to problems with annuity sales.

Charles Duhigg, the same reporter who wrote a New York Times article, in March, about allegations that at least some long term care insurers have faced a large number of complaints about handling of claims, starts the new story with a description of a life insurance agent who used the Certified Senior Advisor professional designation.

Duhigg writes about allegations that the agent tricked an elderly widow into a buying “complicated insurance contracts” that left her “unable to pay dental and home-repair bills,” and about allegations that the CSA test is too easy.

Until recently, the CSA program made no effort to verify the educational backgrounds or criminal records of designation program applicants, Duhigg writes.

Some organizers of credentialing programs teach participants to use scare tactics to sell annuities, Duhigg writes.

Regulators quoted in the article include William Galvin, Massachusetts secretary of the commonwealth; Jim Nelson, an assistant secretary of state in Mississippi; and Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson.

The companies, agents and other companies and individuals described in the article were not immediately available for comment.