Know the signs



Knowing the indicators of trafficking and potential red flags can help identify victims and find them the support and assistance they need. To request help or report suspected human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or text "help" to BeFree (233733). 

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working + living conditions

The individual might be:

  • unable to leave or come and go at will;

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

  • working excessively long and/or unusual hours;

  • owing a large debt to his or her employer;

  • living and working in the same place.

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Mental health + behavior

The individual might be: 

  • showing signs of physical abuse;

  • showing signs of substance use or addiction;

  • fearful of law enforcement/immigration officials;

  • shares scripted, confusing, or inconsistent stories;

  • submissive, tense, or paranoid.

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physical health

The individual might show signs of:

  • poor hygiene;

  • malnourishment;

  • physical and/or sexual abuse;

  • physical restraint;

  • confinement and/or torture.

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What can I do?

I’ve identified red flags that lead me to believe that an individual might be a victim of human trafficking. What can I do?

If you are alone with the individual, you can ask some of the questions below. Bear in mind that in many cases, traffickers are either present or listening in on conversations. If you don’t feel in a safe spot to ask the individual about their situation, please call the hotline on their behalf. Do not try to interfere.

  • Can you leave your job if you want to?

  • Have you been threatened or hurt if you tried to leave?

  • Where do you sleep and eat?

  • Do you have your passport or identification? Who has it?


To request help or report suspected human trafficking, call the Human Trafficking Hotline:



The hotline operates 24/7. Advice, support and help can be provided in English, Spanish, and 200 other languages.