US officials counsel caution when donating money to Japan relief efforts

Associated Press / March 15, 2011

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Federal officials are urging people to be cautious when they donate money to charities responding to the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan.

The FBI warns that con artists often prey on donors following natural disasters. The Internet Crime Complaint Center says donors should be careful when confronted with unsolicited e-mails asking for credit card information or money transfers. Consumers should try to verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations with an Internet search.

Organizations are asking those who want to help to focus on monetary donations.

The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross are among the groups accepting $10 donations via text message. To donate to the Salvation Army, text “Japan’’ or “Quake’’ to 80888. Text “RedCross’’ to 90999 to donate to its fund set up in response to the disaster.

Accepting text donations broadens an organization’s reach and makes it easy for occasional donors to offer help, said Rachel Wolfe, a spokeswoman for World Vision, a humanitarian agency that focuses on helping children and families. Text 4JAPAN to 20222 to donate $10 to World Vision.

Many groups are also using blogs and social media posts to provide updates on their response in Japan and to solicit donations.

Doctors Without Borders, for example, is posting details on Facebook about its efforts to care for the ill and wounded in the hardest-hit areas of Japan. Clicking on a post will lead you to the group’s website, where there is also a spot to donate. US organizations accepting donations include but are not limited to:

Adventist Development and Relief Agency, 800-424-ADRA,

All Hands Volunteers, 919-830-3573,

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 212-687-6200,

American Red Cross, 1-800-RED-CROSS,

AmeriCares, 203-658-9500,

Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team, 301-738-7122,

Baptist World Alliance/Baptist World Aid, 703-790-8980,

Brother’s Brother Foundation, 412-321-3160,

Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, 888-989-8244,

Catholic Relief Services, 877-HELP-CRS,

Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, 800-55-CRWRC,

Church World Service, 800-297-1516,

Direct Relief International, 805-964-4767,

Giving Children Hope, 714-523-4454,

Habitat for Humanity International, 800-Habitat,

International Medical Corps, 800-481-4462,

International Rescue Committee, 877-REFUGEE,

Mercy Corps, 800-852-2100,

Operation Blessing, 800-730-2537,

Relief International, 310-478-1200,

Save the Children, 800-728-3843,