Help Japan without being scammed

In this photo released by Japanese Red Cross Society, a baby survivor is fed milk by a member of Japanese RC's National Disaster Response Team at the Ishinomaki Red Cross Hospital in Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture (state), Saturday, March 12, 2011, one day after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Japanese Red Cross Society, Toshiharu Kato)

March 14, 2011 3:09:55 PM PDT
Any time there's a crisis, criminals and con artists come out of the woodwork. That's even true for the tragedy unfolding right now in Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

So, if you are looking to make a donation to help victims of the catastrophe, take a few steps to make sure your money is going to those in need and not into the pocket of a criminal.

The website evaluates non-profits and is already warning people of scams related to the crisis in Japan. Use Charity Navigator to find an organization you can trust and be sure to give directly to those charities.

Do not respond to phone solicitations.

Texting your donation is also a safe and easy way to help the victims in Japan.

For instance, to donate $10 to the American Red Cross, just text the words REDCROSS to the number 90999 and hit send. Then wait to receive a text message asking you to confirm your donation and click yes. Your donation will not take effect until you confirm it.

Your donation will be charged to your wireless bill and processed through an intermediary. In this case the company is mGive, which charges 25 cents per donation.

To donate $10 to Save the Children, text JAPAN or TSUNAMI to 20222.

For World Vision, text 4JAPAN or 4TSUNAMI to 20222.

Save your phone bill to use as a receipt to get a tax deduction.

Social games raising money

Social gaming company, Zynga, is partnering with Save the Children to raise money.

When players of Farmville, CityVille, or other social games make in-game purchases, 100% of the profits will go to Save the Children's Japan Earthquake Tsunami Children Emergency Fund.

Facebook says it'll donate all of its Facebook credits generated through these purchases, too.

Zynga has run several fundraising campaigns through virtual goods sales, raising more than $6.8 million for international groups like the United Nation World Food Programme and various organizations providing relief to those affected by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Free AT&T calls to Japan

AT&T announced Monday that it will not charge for wireless calls or text messages to Japan through March 31st.

Meanwhile, residentail ial AT&T customers can get credits for up to 60-minutes of landline calls to Japan.

For more information: list of charities aiding Japan

Emergency Information

For emergency information, assistance, and locating family in connection with earthquake in Japan:

Phone numbers in US and Japan:

202 559 4683
800 373 1110
0570 000 911
011 81 90 7170 4769
011 81 90 3080 6711

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