How To Identify a Victim

National Human Trafficking Hotline


Does a person you are trying to identify as a victim carry a lot of these observed traits:

  • Seems anxious, fearful or paranoid. Avoids eye contact.
  • Tearfulness or signs of depression.
  • Unexplained bruises or cuts or other signs of physical abuse.
  • Appears to be in a relationship with someone who is dominating.
  • Never is alone and/or always has someone translating or answering questions on their behalf.
  • Not in control of their own finances.
  • Presents with secrecy or unable to answer questions about where they live.
  • Inconsistent details when telling their story.
  • Has no identification such as a license, passport or other ID documents.
  • Inability to leave their job or residence.
  • Says they cannot schedule appointments.
  • Being a recent arrival to the United States and does not speak English.
  • Is under 18 and providing commercial sex acts. Or at any age unwillingly providing commercial sex acts.
  • Is afraid of law enforcement or receiving help from an outside entity.


If you can find an opportunity to get he/she alone, ask him/her the following screening questions:

  • Can you leave your job or house when you want?
  • Where did you get those bruises or is anyone hurting you?
  • Do you get paid for your employment? Is it fair?
  • How many hours do you work?
  • (If foreign national) How did you get to the U.S. and is it what you expected?
  • Are you being forced to do anything you don’t want to do?
  • Are you or your family being threatened?
  • Do you live with or near your employer?
  • Does your employer provide you housing?
  • Are there locks on doors or windows from outside?
  • Do you owe debt to anyone?


If you suspect they are a victim of human trafficking,take the following actions:

  • Ask the person if you can help them find a safe place to go immediately.
  • If they need time, create an action plan with them to get to a safe place when they are ready.
  • Call and make a report to the human trafficking hotline at 1.888.3737.888. The hotline has language capabilities, so any individual can call directly if they choose.



The Department of Homeland Security online training about how to spot the signs of and report suspected human trafficking:

The Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign is now offering online training about how to spot the signs of and report suspected human trafficking. The training is aimed at the general public, the Federal workforce, first responders, and airline employees and focuses on:

  • Defining human trafficking
  • Differentiating between human trafficking and human smuggling
  • Recognizing populations vulnerable to human trafficking
  • Recognizing indicators of human trafficking

A glossary and additional resources also are provided. View the Human Trafficking Awareness Training on the Department of Homeland Security’s website:

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