Know the Signs of Trafficking


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)



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