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About Human Trafficking

Know It


About Human TraffickingHuman trafficking -- also known as "trafficking in persons" -- is believed to be one of the fastest-growing criminal industries in the world. Human trafficking involves the recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining of people for the purpose of various forms of exploitation. Victims are often controlled through force, fraud, or coercion. While it is commonly thought that human trafficking is the smuggling or movement of people, in fact, the crime involves exploitation and control. Victims of human trafficking can be men or women, adults or children, and U.S. citizens or foreign-born immigrants.

Human trafficking can be difficult to recognize. Human trafficking victims may be forced to work as prostitutes, domestic workers, landscapers, in restaurants and bars, as forced panhandlers, in cleaning and janitorial jobs, in nail salons, or in other roles.

Human trafficking is a complex and often misunderstood issue requiring detailed explanation. Information about human trafficking is often inaccurate, incomplete, and confusing. The following links to the Polaris Project provide an overview of myths and misconceptions associated with human trafficking and the various psychological and physical factors that prevent victims from escaping trafficking situations:
Learn about common myths and misconceptions (in PDF)
Learn about understanding victim's mindsets (in PDF)


See It
 Victims are often kept out of sight and are afraid to reach out for help. According to the Polaris Project, the following may be signs that someone may be a victim of trafficking: 
  • Workers who have had their ID, passport, or documents taken away
  • Workers who show signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
  • Workers who show signs of emotional abuse
  • Workers who are being threatened by or are in debt to their boss
  • Workers who are under 18 and are involved in the commercial sex industry
  • Workers who are not free to leave or come and go from their place of work as they wish
  • Workers who don't seem to be receiving payment
If you think you see a human trafficking situation, you should ask the potential victim the following questions. These questions were compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Can you leave your job or situation if you want?
  • Can you come and go as you please?
  • Have you been threatened if you try to leave?
  • Have you been physically harmed in any way?
  • What are your working or living conditions like?
  • Where do you sleep and eat?
  • Do you sleep in a bed, on a cot, or on the floor?
  • Have you ever been deprived of food, water, sleep, or medical care?
  • Do you have to ask permission to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom?
  • Are there locks on your doors and windows so you cannot get out?
  • Has anyone threatened your family?
  • Has your identification or documentation been taken from you?
  • Is anyone forcing you to do anything that you do not want to do?

Report It
If you are a victim of human trafficking or would like to report a tip regarding suspected human trafficking, call 911 in an emergency.  If you have information regarding human trafficking which is not an emergency, would like more information about human trafficking or would like to learn about how you can help, call the toll-free National Hotline at 1-888-3737-888.