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Update: 11/2/2012 Following the devastation along the east coast caused by Super Storm Sandy, the Red Cross is once more publicizing its 90999 shortcode. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross disaster relief fund and contribute to the clean up in New Jersey and New York. The $10 charge will appear on your next cell phone bill. Or go to www.redcross.org to donate online now.
Update: 3/17/2011. Following last week's disastrous earthquake in Japan and tsunami felt throughout the Pacific Rim, the Red Cross has once again been publicizing its 90999 shortcode. You can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross' disaster relief fund. The charge will be added to your next phone bill. You can also donate at redcross.org.
Update: 1/20/2010. As aftershocks continue to do damage in Haiti, help is still desperately needed. There's still some confusion on how to donate. Here's what you can do:
- Send a text with the word Haiti in the message. The recipient should be the five-digit number 90999. You should receive a confirmation response. Reply Yes. $10 will be added to your phone bill
- Log on to RedCross.org to make a donation online via credit or debit card (minimum $10) or find a Red Cross location near you.
Watch out for scams that ask you to send your credit card information over text message as well as web sites that prompt you to download software.
In the wake of the traumatic 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti Tuesday evening, an outpouring of support has been heard across cyberspace. And thanks to developments in technology, donating to important and topical causes is easier than ever. But could a text of support really find you victimized by a scam?
Right now, there are two legitimate ways to donate to Haitian support and relief organizations:
- Text 'HAITI' to 90999: This service was set up by the U.S. State Department. Texting "HAITI" to the number will donate $10 to the International Red Cross, and will appear as a charge on your wireless bill.
- Text 'YELE' to 501501: This will donate $5 to Yele Haiti, a non-profit organization founded by singer and Haiti native Wyclef Jean. A donation to Yele will also appear as a charge on your cell bill. You can also donate larger amounts at Yele's website.
So far, these are the only two legitimate text-to-donate services providing support to Haiti relief, according to consumer watchdog groups. But others may be popping up to take advantage of Americans' generosity.
The Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission have issued statements warning possible donors to watch out for scams, which tend to pop up after a catastrophe.
The five-to-six digit numbers known as short-codes make it difficult to tell who is on the receiving end of a text. A legitimate charity will not ask you to send your personal information or credit card number through text message.
The devastating earthquake that struck Haiti, the western hemisphere's most impoverished nation, Tuesday hit 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital and largest city. Haiti's prime minister has issued a statement that hundreds of thousands may have perished in the quake.