Sparking the ire of its competitors, American Skandia Life Assurance Cos. is aggressively marketing a new variable annuity that offers consumers a novel, immediate "credit" on their investment.

The Shelton, Conn.-based company is offering to contribute to the investment an amount equal to 3% of the total. Rivals claim the credit amounts to a kickback that will prompt consumers to switch out of their own annuities for the wrong reasons.

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