This time of year, bells are ringing outside of malls and department stores, and charities are asking for your help to make the season brighter for those less fortunate.
At the same time, your phone may be ringing with scam artists on the other end looking to take advantage of your generosity. That's where Mississippi Secretary of State Eric Clark steps in.
"Coming into the holiday season we want the people of east Mississippi to know the facts in this book," said Clark. "We get asked for charitable contributions, especially in this time of year. Mississippians are the most generous people in the United States."
Clark's office publishes a comprehensive report on charities at work within the state.
"For the past five years we have printed this book," Clark said. "It lists every charity registered to solicit money in the state of Mississippi except for churches and schools. Every professional charity is supposed to register with the Secretary of State."
Clark also said there are a few signs you can look for when charities come calling.
"Just be careful. If you have any questions, and they're reluctant to answer them, it's probably a scam," said Clark. "If they don't tell you exactly where they're located, the exact name of the organization, or their phone number, I definitely wouldn't give them any money."
The full report can be obtained free of charge by calling 1-888-236-6167 or by visiting the Secretary of State's Web site: www.sos.state.ms.us.