Indicators of Trafficking

Indicators of Trafficking

Common Work & Living Conditions: The Individual(s) in Question . . .

– Is not free to leave or come and go at will
– Is under 18 years of age and is providing commercial sex acts
– Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp/manager
– Is unpaid, paid very little or paid through tips alone
– Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
– Is not allowed breaks or has harsh restrictions at work
– Owes a large and/or increasing debt and is unable to pay it off
– Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and condition of his/her work
– Is living or working in a location with high security measures
(e.g. opaque or boarded-up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.).

Poor Mental Health: The Individual(s) in Question . . .

– Exhibits unusually fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense and/or nervous/paranoid behavior
– Reacts with unusual fearful or anxious behavior at any reference to “law enforcement”
– Avoids eye contact
– Exhibits a flat affect

Poor Physical Health: The Individual(s) in Question . . .

– Exhibits unexplained injuries or signs of prolonged/untreated illness or disease
– Appears malnourished
– Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement or torture

Lack of Control: The Individual(s) in Question . . .

– Has few or no personal possessions
– Is not in control of his/her own money and/or has no financial records, or bank account
– Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (e.g. ID, passport, or visa)
– Is not allowed or able to speak for him/herself (e.g. a third party may insist on being present and/or interpreting)
– Has an attorney that he/she doesn’t seem to know or to have agreed to receive representation services from

Other: The Individual(s) in Question . . .

– Has been “branded” by a trafficker (e.g. a tattoo of the trafficker’s name)
– Claims to be “just visiting” and is unable to clarify where he/she is staying or to provide an address
– Exhibits a lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or does not know what city he/she is in
– Exhibits a loss of a sense of time
– Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story

If you are aware of a man or woman working/living under these conditions, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at        1-888-373-7888

Source:  Potential Trafficking Indicators | Polaris Project, Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking, Potential Indicators & Red Flags. Polaris Project, National Human Trafficking Resource Center,

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