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Trafficking Red Flags


The following is a list of potential red flags and indicators of human trafficking to help you recognize the signs.*


Common Work and Living Conditions

The individual 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

  • Is in work and/or living locations with high security measures (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on window, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)


Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior

The individual in question:

  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid

  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior when law enforcement is brought up

  • Avoids eye contact


Poor Physical Health

The individual in question:

  • Lacks health care

  • Appears malnourished

  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture


Lack of Control

The individual in question:

  • Has few or no personal possessions

  • Is not in control of his/her own money or identification documents (ID or passport), Has no financial records or bank account

  • Is not allowed or able to speak for himself/herself (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)



The individual in question:

  • Claims to be just visiting and is unable to clarify where he/she is staying/address

  • Lacks knowledge of whereabouts and/or does not know what city he/she is in

  • Has a loss of sense of time

  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story


*The Polaris Project:


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