Thursday, December 15, 2011

BBB Urges Parents to Inspect 'Dear Santa' Websites

Dear SantaParents who intend on letting their kids send a letter to Santa Claus should make sure that their child’s information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

There are over 60 Santa-related websites offering kids the ability to send ol’ St. Nick a message, whether it’s by snail mail or email.  Some sites do it out of the kindness of their hearts (and Christmas spirit!), while others hope to cash in by charging fees upwards of $15.

While some of these sites may not pose a risk to a child’s privacy (or identity), it’s still critical that parents conduct a thorough review of whatever website they intend to let their child visit.

“Parents need to make sure the sites aren’t seeking to exploit their children,” Jim Camp, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau warns, “Some sites may be preying on children’s innocence to obtain private information that can be used in identity theft or other schemes.”

As horrible as it is, child identity theft is a growing problem. According to the Carnegie Mellon Cylab report conducted back in April, children are targeted for identity theft 51 times more frequently than adults. Therefore, parents must take all the necessary precautions to protect their child’s identity.

To help protect your child’s privacy, the BBB urges parents to:

  • MistletoeCheck 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.

Of course, it’s also recommended that you protect your PC from data stealing malware by running up-to-date antivirus software that offers real-time scanning.

Happy Holidays, folks!! :)

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Photo Credit: hvnly

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