Consumers should use caution when donating to Japan tsunami, earthquake relief - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

Consumers should use caution when donating to Japan tsunami, earthquake relief

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Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011 5:55 pm | Updated: 5:09 pm, Fri May 6, 2011.

As Japan continues to assess the damage and devastation from last week's earthquake and tsunami, Arizona consumers should be cautious about where they send donations.

Attorney General Tom Horne issued a warning Monday that scam artists may prey on people who want to help by making a financial contribution.

Northern Japan was rocked by a 9.0 earthquake - one of the largest ever recorded - early Friday morning. The quake triggered a tsunami that resulted in enormous flooding.

Authorities are still counting the dead and determining the structural damage.

Horne 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 also visit charitynavigator.org, which provides financial and background information about organizations.

The American Red Cross's website also lists information.

Mark Weldon, director of communications for the Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Red Cross, said there are only three ways the organization collects donations: Consumers can donate at redcross.org, send a text message to make a $10 donation (text Red Cross to 90999), or call (800) 733-2767 (800-Red Cross).

The Red Cross will never call you seeking donations, nor will it have people out in random locations asking for donations, Weldon said.

The agency might have a booth set up at a Phoenix Suns game in the future with information about how to help, Weldon said. But it will be clear that it's the Red Cross because of signage and materials for people to read.

Though people may have the best of intentions to collect food or clothing locally to send to Japan, Weldon said it's too difficult - and costly - to get items there. The Red Cross has supplies in the region that will likely be accessed, he said.

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