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Parents Need To Check Privacy Policies On 'Dear Santa' Sites, BBB Advises

The BBB advices parents to look for a strict privacy policy on websites offering to send children letters from Santa Claus.

For many children, sending a letter to Santa Claus and getting a reply can be a thrill.

Several online sites - and a few local charities - offer to help parents by handling the correspondence. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises parents to check a site's privacy policy before entering any information that could identify a child.

The BBB has found numerous sites that offer Santa letters for fees ranging from zero to more than $15. Until last Wednesday, Mercy Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was offering to send the letters in exchange for a donation.

Websites directed to children and those with special children's sections should have a privacy policy that explains how information collected by the site will be used. A site also should include the name of the company (or charity) offering the service, the physical address and a telephone number.

Today's BBB press release includes six tips for parents:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Click on hyperlinks in the website to assure that children don’t access inappropriate content.
  6. 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.

For more consumer tips or to check a company's BBB Business Review or a charity's Charity Review, go to the BBB website or call 314-645-3300.

Follow the BBB on Facebook or Twitter.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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