PANAMA CITY -- The holidays are around the corner and so are those holiday scammers and thieves.
Law enforcement is already beginning to increase security. They're also offering tips to locals on how to avoid scams and rip-offs.
For most people it's the most wonderful time of the year, including scammers and thieves.
Bay County sheriff’s officials have already had dozens of scam reports this year, and expect it to get worse as the holidays approach.
Bay Co. Investigator Paul Vecker said, “These criminals pray upon the generosity of the good people."
Investigator Vecker is currently working on a business scam investigation. Unfortunately, he says many more go unreported.
"A lot of times we don't hear about certain scams or fraud that has occurred because the individual is just embarrassed about the situation they don't want to come forward."
Besides scams, police are also on the look-out for tradition thieves, who break into cars and homes, or hold-up unsuspecting shoppers.
Lt. Will Bruhmuller, Panama City Beach Police Dept. said, "Naturally during the holidays there is a lot going on at these stores whether it be Wal-Mart, Pier Park we beef up our security, we beef up our patrols."
Police say you should never shop alone. Also, lock your shopping bags in the truck of your car, never leave them in plain sight.
Never carry all of your credit cards with you and don't make yourself vulnerable by walking alone in parking lot with your arms full of packages.
"We want families to be very cautious watch your surroundings during this time of the year."
Most security at local shopping centers will be happy to walk you to your vehicle. If you are victimized contact local law enforcement immediately.