Japan disaster scam warning

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The pictures out of Japan are heartbreaking.

Northern Japan was rocked by a 9.0 earthquake – one of the largest ever recorded. The quake triggered a tsunami that resulted in enormous flooding. Authorities are still counting the dead and determining the damage.

Many Americans sit watching this crisis unfold wondering what they can do to help. It’s in our nature to want to help. Unfortunately, scam artists are counting on that.

You can bet that as soon as the disaster struck, so did the scammers; creating fly by night websites and sending out spam emails.   Remember, these guys are bottom feeders and they don’t care who they take advantage of.

Often the scams are spread using social media or a fake charity tries to make you believe they’re a legitimate one.
It’s happened before to the Red Cross. Con-Artists use the names of reputable organizations to gain trust.

Experts warn of so-called charitable organizations that contact you. Watch out for unsolicited email, text, phone calls, or door to door solicitors. The Red Cross will never call you seeking donations, nor will it have people in random locations asking for donations.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has also issued a warning about these scammers. He suggests Arizonans donate to known organizations and to ask what percentage of a donation will go to the charity rather than administrative costs.

Consumers can visit charitynavigator.org, which provides financial and background information about organizations.

So stay safe. Don’t let someone take advantage of your generosity.

Make donations through a legitimate charity’s website and not through any posted links. Also, use a credit card. You never want to wire money or give a cash donation.

 Here are some additional resources to help:
AMERICAN RED CROSS — U.S. mobile phone users can text ‘REDCROSS’ to 90999 to add $10 automatically to your phone
bill. Or visit http://www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS — Sending relief teams and supplies to the area. Call 1-800-481-4462, or visit http://internationalmedicalcorps.org

SAVE THE CHILDREN — The relief effort providing food, medical care and education to children is accepting donations through mobile phones by texting ‘JAPAN’ to 20222 to donate $10. People can also call 1-800-728-3843 during business hours or visit www.savethechildren.org/japanquake to donate online.

GLOBAL GIVING — The non-profit which works through grassroots efforts says Americans can text ‘JAPAN’ to 50555 to give $10 through their phone bill. Or visit http://www.globalgiving.org.

INTERACTION — The group is the largest alliance of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations and lists many ways to help on its site, http://www.interaction.org

NETWORK FOR GOOD — The aggregator of charities has a list of programs and ways to donate to relief efforts. Visit http://www.networkforgood.org

WORLD VISION — The Christian humanitarian organization focuses on children, aiming to lessen the emotional and psychological damage that many children suffer during crises. To donate, visit www.worldvision.org.