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Updated on Wednesday, December 17, 2014
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Holiday tunes on the radio (or your Spotify playlist), people seem kinder to each other and children have the wide-eyed excitement of knowing presents are coming soon. While families all have their own Christmas traditions, those who celebrate with presents on December 25 all participate in one – writing letters to Santa. Unfortunately, some parents who are trying to make this year’s Christmas extra special could fall susceptible to a Santa scam.
A Google search for “Letters from Santa” reveals dozens of sites offering to generate letters from Santa, including “santamail.org,” “packagefromsanta.com,” “freelettersfromsantaclaus.com” and “santaclaushouse.com.”
Apparently kids are no longer satisfied with sending letters off to the jolly man in the red suit, and expect a response and perhaps a certificate of proof he or she made the Nice List.
Parents who feel either crunched for time are creatively challenged turn to the Internet to find a way to customize a letter, a video and perhaps a certificate. All it takes is a few minutes to customize the letter and then of course paying. And that’s where the problem occurs.
Scam sites have popped up to con unsuspecting parents into forking over credit card numbers in exchange for a nice Santa letter that never arrives.
The Better Business Bureau issued an alert warning parents not to share personal information on sites and ignore emails being sent directly to accounts. Instead, make sure a payment is through a secure connection and note any poor grammar or misspelled words on the website. You can also look for the Better Business Bureau on the website to see that’s verified or look it up on the BBB.org. Then again, you can always just hand make your own letter to be 100% sure your information won’t be stolen.
The BBB warns parents to look out for:
- A push to buy now
- A special offer
- Asking child’s name
- Asking your name
- Credit card information
- Look for https instead of http when paying
And while we’re talking about holiday scams, don’t forget to keep an eye out for scammers pretending to be charitable organizations. In order to ensure your money is going to the right place, you can check out CharityNavigator or GuideStar, which contains records of nonprofit organizations registered with the IRS. You can also see an organization’s Form 990, a tax document for nonprofits.
If someone does get ahold of your identify or you’re the victim of fraud, then read these articles:
- Identity Theft Action Plan
- Credit Freeze: A Defense Against Identity Theft and Fraud
- How to Protect Yourself Against Phishing Scams