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Coakley On Japan Donations: Watch Out For Scams

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Vehicles are crushed by a collapsed wall at a carpark in Mito city in Ibaraki prefecture on March 11, 2011 after a massive earthquake rocked Japan. massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan on March 11, unleashing a monster 10-metre high tsunami that sent ships crashing into the shore and carried cars through the streets of coastal towns. (Photo credit JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

Vehicles are crushed by a collapsed wall at a carpark in Mito city in Ibaraki prefecture on March 11, 2011 after a massive earthquake rocked Japan. massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan on March 11, unleashing a monster 10-metre high tsunami that sent ships crashing into the shore and carried cars through the streets of coastal towns. (Photo credit JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON (CBS) – Many Massachusetts residents are eager to assist in the international relief effort for Japan.

But, Attorney General Martha Coakley is warning people to be careful when donating.

The AG’s office says there are a number of fundraising scams that will claim to be raising money for those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

If you are unsure where to direct your donation, CBSBoston.com recommends the American Red Cross

The state is offering a list of ways that potential donors can protect themselves from falling victim to a fundraising scam:

• Check to see if the charity is registered and filing with the Attorney General’s Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division. Registration and filing information can be obtained online or by calling the division at 617-727-2200 x2101.

• Know your charity. Take the time to verify the address, phone number, contact information, and review the website and written material, when possible. If you have any doubts, well established charities with experience in disaster relief are generally a good choice.

• Do not pay by cash. Pay by check, and make it out to the charity (use its full name; don’t use initials), not the fundraiser. Never give your credit card number to a fundraiser over the telephone.

The law requires any charity or fundraiser that operates in the state to register with the Attorney General’s office. This requirement also applies to businesses that advertise a portion of their sales will go to earthquake relief.

Related: Complete Quake Coverage from CBS News

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