Virginia's Office of Consumer Affairs is warning the public to be wary of requests to assist the victims of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The office warns the public to be especially cautious of appeals seeking personal information such as PIN and account numbers, and to contribute only to well-established organizations such as the American Red Cross. A charitable organization can be checked out through online resources, such as GuideStar and the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.

Commissioner Matt Lohr of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says that while the need is urgent, it pays to wisely donate to charitable organizations.