Websites that promise to send children letters or emails from Santa Claus may be fun, but Connecticut Better Business Bureau advises parents to carefully check the sites to avoid having their child’s privacy invaded or worse.
Some sites offer children the opportunity to persuade St. Nick via email that they were good in 2012. Others offer to send children a personalized letter from Santa, for free or money – more than $15 in some cases.
BBB advises adults to review the sites carefully before allowing children to share any personal information. They should try to determine who is seeking the information, how it will be used and whether it will be shared with third parties.
If the service is offered by a charity, Better Business Bureau advises parents to check its BBB Charity Review at www.give.org.
BBB recommends parents:
• Check whether the website shares information with third parties, including advertisers, and whether the company publicly discloses the information or retains the information for any future purpose.
• Determine that children are not asked to share more information than is reasonably necessary to participate in the activity, such as a first name and email address.
• Limit the personal information children share with Santa and omit physical addresses. Santa already knows where all the children live.
• Check sites for unwelcome content. Some websites are geared toward adults and may contain language or advertising that parents may not want children to see.
• Verify hyperlinks in the website to assure that children don’t access inappropriate content. Hover your mouse over the hyperlink without clicking to see where the link goes.
If you want to make perfectly sure no one invades your child’s privacy, consider writing the Santa letter yourself and sending it to the child or leaving it on your child’s bed or somewhere else where he or she can find it.
You can learn how to protect yourself, finances, identity and family, and find reviews of businesses, websites and charities at www.bbb.org.