Recognizing the Signs of Trafficking


Fall leaves on a dirt path

Are you or someone you know being trafficked? Is human trafficking happening in your community? Recognizing potential red flags and knowing the indicators of human trafficking is a key step in identifying more victims and helping them find the assistance they need.

To request help or report suspected human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Or text HELP to: BeFree (233733).

Common Work and Living Conditions: The individual(s) in question
  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes

  • Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts

  • Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager

  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips

  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours

  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work

  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off

  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work

  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)

Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior
  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid

  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement

  • Avoids eye contact

Poor Physical Health
  • Lacks health care

  • Appears malnourished

  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture

Lack of Control
  • Has few or no personal possessions

  • Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account

  • Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)

  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)

Other
  • Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address

  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in

  • Loss of sense of time

  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story

This list is not exhaustive and represents only a selection of possible indicators. Also, the red flags in this list may not be present in all trafficking cases and are not cumulative. Learn more at www.humantraffickinghotline.org.

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