Kids these days are so tech-savvy, right? Ask any parent or grandparent and you’ll be regaled with stories about how kids today are just so much more worldly and aware, and so much less quick to believe. That’s why a growing scam is able to bilk parents and loved ones out of their money as these adults try to provide some sense of the magic of Christmas for their kids.
These “Letter from Santa” scams often begin as an unsolicited email offering you a special package. For a low cost, your child will receive a handwritten, personalized letter from Santa Claus himself, postmarked from the North Pole to demonstrate how real it is. Some offers even ask for unique identifying features, like your child’s best friend’s name, just to help the recipient believe in the letter.
An email that asks for your credit card, your child’s personal information, your name, address, and telephone number in order to process payment, and even wants your child’s best friend’s name…what could possibly be wrong with that, you ask?
Plenty, of course. First, in one iteration of the scam, you’re charged the $20-or-so and you never receive anything. You’re just out the money. But another version of the scam doesn’t even require you to submit payment, as the service is free; the only problem is, the scammers ask for so much personal information on you that they either sell your information to mailing lists or use it for identity theft themselves.
This kind of thing is enough to put a damper on anyone’s holiday spirit, that’s for sure. But while holiday scams are typically on the rise at this time of year for a variety of reasons, you can still enjoy some of the festivities of the season without becoming a victim of a crime.
Besides the fun tech-themed additions to the magic of Christmas like Santa tracking apps and instant messaging apps to send your letter to Santa, you can still go the old-fashioned paper route. You can enlist the help of a friend whose handwriting is unrecognized to write the letter for you from St. Nick, safely adding such personal details as your street, your town, your child’s pet’s name, and more.
Once the letter is written, you can mail it with a SASE to the Anchorage, Alaska postmaster, who will send it back in your included, posted envelope with the North Pole postmark. As long as the postmaster receives the letter by December 15th, you’ll be fine.
Of course, there are legitimate Santa letter websites out there that will charge a small fee for a letter mailed to your child. Be sure to do your homework by checking out their websites, and making sure they offer a secure payment option before you submit any information. Make sure you feel comfortable with the amount of information they’re collecting on you and your child before submitting. But most of all, remember that the true spirit of the holidays comes from spending time with people you care about.