Warning Signs of Human Trafficking


Since human trafficking is often a crime that is hidden in plain sight, it is important to be aware of its warning signs. Some indications that a person may be a victim of human trafficking include (especially in the case of women and children):

    • Appearing malnourished
    • Showing signs of physical injuries and abuse
    • Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, and authority figures/law enforcement
    • Seeming to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction
    • Lacking official identification documents
    • Appearing destitute/lacking personal possessions
    • Working excessively long hours
    • Living at place of employment
    • Checking into hotels/motels with older males, and referring to those males as boyfriend or “daddy,” which is often street slang for pimp
    • Poor physical or dental health 
    • Tattoos/ branding on the neck and/or lower back
    • Untreated sexually transmitted diseases
    • Small children serving in a family restaurant
    • Security measures that appear to keep people inside an establishment - barbed wire inside of a fence, bars covering the insides of windows
    • Not allowing people to go into public alone, or speak for themselves

      These warning signs are adapted from information provided by the Polaris Project and its National Human Trafficking Resource Center and Innocents at Risk.