One of the most disheartening aspects about the world in which we live is the fact that there are many people who are willing to go to great lengths to acquire what doesn't belong to them. Burglars, fraudsters, and the dishonest exist in all walks of life, as they have for time immemorial.

So-called 'scam artists' are constantly at large in Australia, looking to trick decent, honest people out of their hard-earned money – and those in senior living are most at risk, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology.

Indeed, the Institute states that consumer fraud is 2.2 times more common than assault among Australians aged over 65, and the experience is perhaps no less harrowing. A study carried out at the University of California, Los Angeles, has found that older people may be more susceptible to falling victim to fraud due to the make-up of their brain.

Why are those in senior living more at risk?

Well, a section of our brain has the ability to analyse and interpret whether or not a person has an untrustworthy face – however, in elderly people, this part of the organ is less active, meaning that they become far more trusting with age.

What's more, many senior citizens also live alone, with no one to look after them. Aging Care states that loneliness is a factor in implicit trust, meaning that when a stranger telephones or comes knocking at the door, they are simply happy to have someone to talk to.

The Internet is also riddled with scammers - it pays to be careful.The Internet is also riddled with scammers – it pays to be careful.

The figures are stark: some AU$89 million was officially scammed out of Australian pockets during 2013, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – though it's possible that figure is much higher due to unreported instances.

Therefore, it's of paramount importance to ensure that you or someone you know does not fall victim to such unscrupulous people. Here are a couple of tips to ensure that you're protected:

Keep sensitive information a secret 

This is should be a given, but, what with scammers coming up with ever more devious tricks by the day, it's important to keep your sensitive data under proverbial lock and key.

This means that you should never give out any banking information, either over the telephone, email, or at your front door – this includes credit card numbers, identity digits and account codes. Many scammers phone up pretending to be your bank, but don't fall for this – always conduct your banking in branch or on their official website.

Don't trust cold callers 

Many scammers turn up at the houses of retired people, claiming that their roof needs repairing, or offering other essential home maintenance. Bona-fide, qualified tradies would never resort to such methods – and paying someone who says that they will do the work almost always ends with money in their pocket, and work never getting completed – if it even needed doing in the first place, that is.

How can those in senior living avoid being scammed?