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Parents : Be Wary Of "Letter To Santa" Domains

November 24, 2011

Thanks to the Internet, contacting Santa Claus has never been easier. Gone are the days of writing physical letters and the long journey snail mail takes to the North Pole - Santa is now just an email away. Many domains in his name have been registered and web sites set up so children can contact him; but parents should be vigilant.

The USA's Better Business Bureau recently issued an advisory stating that parents should check the privacy policies of "Letter To Santa" web sites so they are clear on who is seeking the information a child will provide, how it will be utilised and whether it will be shared with third parties.

The BBB recommends the only information these sites should require is a first name and email address as Santa, along with knowing who's been naughty and who has been nice, will already know the address and other details of the child.

Parents should closely inspect a Letter To Santa site before allowing their children any sort of access; to ensure all the content is suitable and any outbound links lead to similarly suitable sites.

Adults also need to be wary of sites geared towards them as well. In the lead-up to Christmas, fraudsters take advantage of the annual gift-buying frenzy to register domain names focusing on popular products and discounts; seeking to fleece people of their hard earned cash.

Shopping on a web site with a domain name ending in offers some protection against fly-by-night fraudsters; but it certainly isn't guaranteed; so the usual checks should apply. These include verifying the contact details of the business, searching for reviews of the company, paying only via secure means and keeping in mind the wisdom of "if a deal sounds too good to be true, then it probably is". 

Shopping with overseas vendors requires even more vigilance as should there be a dispute, it may be more difficult to resolve it.

For further tips on online purchasing, view the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Online Shopper's Checklist.

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