Schemes and Rip Offs: "Dear Santa" Scams - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Schemes and Rip Offs: "Dear Santa" Scams

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More than 60 websites use the name "Santa Claus."  Many offering kids the chance to email Saint Nick with their Christmas wishes.

But parents need to be careful not to let their kids personal information end up in the hands of a grinch.@

Writing to Santa is a time-honored tradition, and while it seems innocent and fun, it is very important for adults to carefully review any website their children visit.

According to the Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU), all websites designed for children - or websites designed with a special children's section - should have a privacy policy that explains the site's information collection practices.

You should be able to easily find out the name of the company, its complete contact information and whether it shares information with third parties, including advertisers.

The Better Business Bureau and CARU offers the following tips when reviewing a "Dear Santa" site:

- Check to see what they want you to hand over. Websites directed to children should not ask a child to disclose 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. In many cases, there really shouldn't be a need to share this information. Especially since Santa already knows where all the children live.

- Check websites for unwelcome content. Some sites are geared toward adults and may contain language or advertising adults may not want children to see.

- Check the links. Since hyperlinks can allow children to move seamlessly from one site to another, investigate the hyperlinks to assure children don't access inappropriate content.

For more information on website safety for children, visit CARU.org or BBB.org

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