A big part of being happy and successful in the modern world is learning to identify and avoid a virtual epidemic of spammers, scammers and fraudsters.

If you’ve ever caught an animal in a trap, whether it was a mouse, a gopher or a wasp, you probably felt several distinct emotions. The first was probably a good feeling – a sense of accomplishment – followed by sadness for the poor creature who fell for the bait.

Here’s the thing. Baited traps are not just for pests. The world is full of human predators and their traps. They’ve always been out there, but the digital world has made them far more pervasive. Some are relatively benign while others can hurt you badly – financially, emotionally and physically.

I’d be willing to bet that you only recognize a small fraction of the predators targeting you with baited traps 24×7.

Every day you avoid scammers, spammers, security and privacy threats. Countless financial, employment and business scams. Marketers trying to sell you stuff you don’t need, dietary systems and supplements that don’t work, products that don’t do the job or aren’t built to last and relationship predators who are not at all what they seem. And of course all the fads and self-help style life, business and career advice that can steer you in the wrong direction. I can go on and on.

We love the internet for the information and communication, but it opens us up to countless spam and scam artists, security threats, predators and their unprecedented array of baited traps.

Maybe the biggest concern with the digital world and its pervasive traps is the effect it has on our children. Parents, in my view, are overly concerned with physical predators and woefully clueless and careless about the virtual kind, not to mention teachers and other adults pushing their own misguided agendas on impressionable kids.

Learn to identify and avoid all those traps, physical and virtual, by being trap aware, trap savvy and ultimately trap free. Live it. Teach it. Preach it.