There is one thing that every individual can do to join the fight against human trafficking and that is to be on the lookout for the signs and report suspected human trafficking incidents when you spot them. Learning how to recognize human trafficking and reporting it to the right people could help save someone’s life. Here’s how to go about it.
1. Look at the Living and Emotional Conditions of the Individual
Before you report a suspected human trafficking incident, make a note of what you’re seeing so that you can give accurate details to the agency. Human trafficking doesn’t always look the same, in part because there are different types. But there are some general clues that can indicate that a person is being trafficked. According to the U.S. Department of State, if you see any of the following clues you should call and report them to your local authorities:
- Living with employer
- Poor living conditions
- Multiple people in cramped space
- Inability to speak to individual alone
- Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
- Employer is holding identity documents
- Signs of physical abuse
- Submissive or fearful
- Unpaid or paid very little
- Under 18 and in prostitution
2. Report Suspected Human Trafficking in a Timely Manner
While gathering info is helpful, try not to get too caught up in the details. Remember, traffickers don’t treat their victims as human beings, they treat them as goods. This means that they transport, sell, trade, and transfer their victims, so reporting a potential trafficking situation in a timely manner is critical. The sooner agencies receive that information, the sooner they can take action.
A Word of Caution
Never ask someone, “Are you being trafficked?” Perpetrators of trafficking are skilled at deception and manipulation, so some victims may be unaware they are being trafficked. Additionally, trafficking victims rarely trust others or give away information, for fear their traffickers will find out, get angry with them, take away privileges, and torture them.
Here are some questions that are safe to ask (according to the U.S. Department of State):
- Can you leave your job if you want to?
- Can you come and go as you please?
- Have you been hurt or threatened if you tried to leave?
- Has your family been threatened?
- Do you live with your employer?
- Where do you sleep and eat?
- Are you in debt to your employer?
- Do you have your passport/identification? Who has it?
Who to Call to Report Suspected Human Trafficking
If you spot a potential human trafficking situation, report it immediately by contacting the National Human Trafficking Hotline, available 24/7. You can contact them by calling: 1-888-373-7888 or texting: 233733. All calls and messages are confidential. You can also visit their website for more information. Additionally, if your local law enforcement agency has a tip line, contact them as well. If you’re nervous about reporting suspected human trafficking just remember, your phone call may be the thing that saves someone from a lifetime of being trafficked. Even if you’re unsure or hesitant, make the call!