Know The Signs

Have you ever had the feeling that something didn't seem quite right about your interaction with someone you encountered? Although Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery often occur behind closed doors or in secrecy, the exploitation of human beings also occurs in broad daylight where individuals may unknowingly encounter someone who is enslaved. Simply being aware of human trafficking indicators is the first step in making a difference in the lives of those who may be entrapped.

The following is a partial list of potential red flags and indicators of human trafficking and modern slavery. If you recognize any of these signs, please call 1.888.373.7888 to report a situation to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline.

A person may be trafficked if they:

  • Cannot leave their job to find another one
  • Do not have control over their wages or money
  • Work but receive little or no pay
  • Have no choice about hours worked or under what conditions
  • Show signs of physical abuse or injury
  • Are accompanied everywhere by someone who speaks for him/her
  • Appear to be fearful of or under the control of another person
  • Have health issues that have not been attended to
  • Owe money to their employer or another person who they feel honor bound to repay
  • May describe moving or changing jobs suddenly and often
  • Are unfamiliar with the neighborhood where they live or work
  • Are not working in the job originally promised to them
  • Are travelling with minimal or inappropriate luggage/belongings
  • Lack identification, passport or other travel documents
  • Are forced to provide sexual services in a strip club, massage parlor, brothel or other locations
  • Are laborers, domestic servants or caretakers but never leave the home or workplace
  • Are unable to freely contact friends or family
  • Are not allowed to socialize or attend religious services
  • Have restricted freedom of movement
  • Are a juvenile engaged in a commercial sex act

Trafficked Persons may be reluctant to report or seek services because they:

  • Are threatened that if they tell anyone, they or their families will be hurt
  • May have complex relationships with their traffickers that involve deep levels of psychological conditioning based on fear or misplaced feelings of love
  • May be unfamiliar with their surroundings and do not know whom to trust
  • Do not know help exists or where to go for it
  • Frequently unfamiliar with the laws, cultures, and languages of the destination location or country
  • Fear retribution and forcible removal to countries in which they may face imprisonment or other hardship
  • Fear law enforcement and other authorities
  • May be addicted to drugs
  • May be in debt to their traffickers
  • May be sending much needed money back 'home' and worry about not being able to do this

For a more comprehensive list on general indicators and also specifics regarding children, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, labor exploitation, begging and petty crime, Click here

What are some indicators of human trafficking of children?
Human Trafficking of Children Indicator Tool