St. Louis, Mo., Dec. 16, 2010 –
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises parents who want to reinforce their child’s belief in Santa Claus with an e-mail or letter from the jolly old elf to check online sites carefully to avoid having their child’s privacy invaded or worse.
More than 60 domain names linked to Santa Claus have been registered, according to the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), an affiliate of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Some sites offer children the opportunity to persuade St. Nick via e-mail that they were good in 2010. Others offer to send children a personalized letter from Santa, with fees of zero to more than $15.
The BBB advises adults to review the sites carefully before allowing children to share any personal information with a “Letter to Santa” website. 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 who want to provide their children with a wonderful holiday experience should 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.”
“Even Santa is required to comply with CARU’s Online Privacy Protection guidelines and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,” said Wayne J. Keeley, CARU’s director.
The BBB advises parents to:
- Check whether the company 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 e-mail 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 adults may not want children to see.
- Click on hyperlinks in a site to assure that children don’t access inappropriate content.
Consumers can learn how to protect themselves or find reviews of businesses or charities by calling (314) 645-3300 or by going online to www.bbb.org
Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-3300, firstname.lastname@example.org
, or Chris Thetford, Director of Communications, 314-645-3300, email@example.com