St. Louis, Mo., Dec. 17, 2012 – Websites that promise to send children letters or emails from Santa Claus may be fun, but the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises parents to check the sites out carefully 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, with fees from zero to more than $15. Some charities, including several in the St. Louis area, offer to send Santa letters in exchange for a donation.
The 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.
“Parents need to make sure the sites aren’t seeking to exploit their children,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. “Some sites may be preying on children’s innocence to obtain private information that can be used in identity theft or other schemes.”
If the service is offered by a charity, the BBB advises parents to check its BBB Charity Review as well as checking on how the child’s information will be handled.
The BBB advises parents to:
- 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 asked to share no more information than is reasonably necessary to participate in the activity — a first name and email address, for instance.
- Limit the personal information children share with Santa and omit physical addresses. Children may be told that Santa already knows where all the children live.
- Check sites for unwelcome content. Some sites are geared toward adults and may contain language or advertising that parents may not want children to see.
- Click on hyperlinks in the website to assure that children don’t access inappropriate content.
- 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 the child can find it.
Consumers can learn how to protect themselves or find BBB Business Reviews
of businesses or Charity Reviews
by calling (314) 645-3300 or by going online to www.bbb.org
.Contacts (News Media Only):
Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-0606, firstname.lastname@example.org
, or Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, 314-584-6743 or 314-681-4719 (cell), email@example.com