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Parents who want to give their children an opportunity to get a “genuine” letter from Santa should be mindful of Grinchy scammers.

Yes, there are legitimate companies in the business of sending your child a convincing and authentic-looking letter from St. Nick. But like the song says, “You better watch out.” Some who claim to be your connection to the North Pole are actually only trying to connect with your credit card information or your child’s identity.

Here is some advice from your Better Business Bureau for those seeking a polar pen pal for their child:

What they may claim you’ll get

Scammers often spam their ads out this time of year offering all sorts of goodies for your children. One identified scam offered:

• A personal letter that’s signed by Santa

• A certificate of “authenticity”

• A Santa map

• A view of Santa’s “nice” list

• Everything sent from the North Pole

In this case, good as it sounds, it’s a scam. You may receive something that’s practically worthless (especially in light of the payment you make), or you may receive absolutely nothing. What the scammer gets: your credit card information and other private info, which they may sell to other thieves.

Scam Claus clues

As in other types of scams, sometimes errors in spelling or syntax are giveaways that the sender is a scammer from a foreign country. Here’s an example from one:

“Santa will call for the minute about the day anyone choose…Santa will speak concerning the Child’s pets, hobbies, Christmas wish record and other things you’d similar to him in order to mention…Give your son or perhaps daughter this simply great along with unforgettable Christmas.”

Be aware that anyone can easily create a website that appears to be legitimate, stealing graphics and logos from other websites. Before you do business with any online company, check them out at bbb.org.

Never click on links or open attachments in emails that are sent to you unsolicited. In some cases, they will download malware into your computer or device. In others, they will send you to what may appear to be a legitimate form requesting personal information. Once you give it out, they can do whatever they wish with it. Be especially suspicious of “free” offers.

Alternatives

Some Santa-letter companies are legit, but you must thoroughly check them out to be sure. Enter their name along with words like “reviews” and “complaints” to see if they have a bad history, and check them out with BBB.

The United States Postal Service has a Letters From Santa program for free. They have plenty of experience with children’s letters; the program has been in place for 106 years. Your child should get his/her Santa letter (addressed to Santa Claus, North Pole) into the mail soon. USPS recommends getting them out by Dec. 8, so hurry! Santa’s helpers in Anchorage, Alaska, will send his reply. Visit https://about.usps.com/holidaynews/letters-from-santa.htm for more details.

Remember also that there are many examples online of free printable Santa stationery. Creative parents can download it and write their own highly personal letter from Kris Kringle themselves.

If you have questions or concerns regarding a Santa letter or other seasonal scams, contact your BBB at 800-856-2417, or visit bbb.org.

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L Magazine editor

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