WICHITA, Kan. -- With Halloween still a couple of days away, it is too early for many people to be thinking about Christmas and the holiday season.
However, people who want to take advantage of the generosity of others are likely already looking toward the season when many charities are looking for donations, consumer advocates say.
"If you're going to contribute and give your hard-earned money, you want to make sure that it gets back into the community and back into the right hands," said Denise Groene, state director for the Better Business Bureau.
The holiday season can bring out the best in people who just want to help, but it can also bring out the worst in others, Groene said.
"Unfortunately, there are always people who are going to prey after the willingness and the cheerfulness of the community who want to give back," she said.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said, though Thanksgiving is still a month away, it is not too soon to start planning your holiday donations.
"Be thinking about it now," Schmidt said. "Plan your giving. Think about which charitable organizations you want to support. Reach out to them affirmatively. Don't wait for the solicitation to land in the mail box or the voice mail."
When contacted by organizations who solicit money, Groene said, make sure it is really a charity calling.
"Get their exact name of the organization," she said. "Get their phone number and then do your homework and call them back if that's the organization you wish to make a donation with."
Schmidt said by protecting their money, consumers also protect their communities and the charities working to help them.
"Be in control of your giving and that way you know where your dollars are going," he said. "You know it's a legitimate purpose on the other end."
Groene added any legitimate charity will not use high-pressure sales tactics when seeking donations.
"Any legitimate charity is going to allow you that time to do your homework because they have nothing to hide," she said.