What to look for

Here are some signs a person may be being trafficked for sexual or labor exploitation. More complete lists are at the Department of Homeland Security’s site at or National Human Trafficking Hotline’s site at

For signs youth are being sexually exploited or trafficked, go to

Officials stress one sign or even two may not indicate a person is being trafficked, but a growing number could warrant a call to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

Common work and living conditions:

▪  Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes.

▪  Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp/manager.

▪  Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips.

▪  High security measures exist in the workplace or living location.

Poor mental health or abnormal behavior:

▪  Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid.

▪  Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement.

▪  Avoids eye contact.

Poor physical health:

▪  Lacks medical care.

▪  Appears malnourished.

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

Lack of Control:

▪  Has few or no personal possessions.

▪  Is not in control of his/her own money or identification documents.

▪  Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves.


▪  Inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address.

▪  Lack of knowledge of whereabouts or local city.

▪  Numerous inconsistencies in his/her story.

Note: According to federal law, any minor under the age of 18 engaging in commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking, regardless of the presence of force, fraud, or coercion.

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