Experts warn of scams in Japan aid effort

March 14, 2011 8:17:57 PM PDT
There are many ways to help the victims of the earthquake in Japan, but experts say be careful where you give your donations.

The response to the devastation has been international. Many aid groups already have representatives in the hardest hit areas assessing what supplies are needed.

The organization World Vision has launched a $10 million effort to help Japan. The group's effort includes providing food, water and shelter as well as therapy for children.

"Children, often after an earthquake, become uncertain and anxious about future, World Vision sets up child friendly spaces and those are areas where training counselors talk to children about their experiences," said Casey Calamusa of World Vision.

World Vision is taking donations to fund their relief efforts as is ShelterBox which is sending boxes to Japan. Each ones contains a tent, a stove, a water purification system and enough supplies to last a group of 10 people six months.

ShelterBox has been around more than 10 years and last year sent more than 28,000 shelter boxes to Haiti.

"It's very difficult to deal with some of the things you see and experience, but to that one family you're providing shelter for, it's a life changing experience," said Mark Dyer, ShelterBox Response Team.

Each ShelterBox costs $1,000.

With many options for providing help, the Better Business Bureau advises taking time to research how you want to spend your money without getting scammed. Experts say be wary of anonymous solicitations from people on social media sites.

"Be wary of people who say 100 percent goes back to the charity because invariably there's going to be some kind of overhead, even credit card processing fees," said Steve Bernas, Better Business Bureau, Chicago.