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Please help spot and assist those in need by completing this Human Trafficking module. Read through the information and then take the eight-question quiz by clicking on the Quiz tab, above.

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. That control often includes forcing someone into commercial sex acts, or labor or services.  Victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade.

How Common is Human Trafficking?

Every year, human traffickers generate billions of dollars in profits by victimizing millions of people around the world, and here in the United States. It is becoming more lucrative in many cases than the drug trade. Human trafficking is considered to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world.

Common Work and Living Conditions:

A victim of human trafficking…

  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • Is under 18 years of age 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 and/or increasing debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of work
  • Is living or working in a location with high security measures (e.g. opaque or boarded-up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.).

Example: Individuals are forced to prostitute on the streets and in hotels in order to meet nightly quotas and turn money over to their traffickers.

Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior:

A victim of human trafficking…

  • Exhibits unusually fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense or nervous/paranoid behavior
  • Reacts with unusually fearful or anxious behavior at any reference to law enforcement
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Exhibits a flat, emotionless demeanor

Example: Pimps force adults and minors to sell commercial sex on the streets by means of physical abuse, threats, lies, manipulation, and false promises

Poor Physical Health:

A victim of human trafficking…

  • Exhibits unexplained injuries or signs of prolonged/untreated illness or disease
  • Appears malnourished
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture

Example: Human trafficking victims are coerced into a life of slavery through brutality and threats against the victims’ families.

Lack of Control:

A victim of human trafficking…

  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control of money, has no financial records, or bank account
  • Is not in control of own identification documents (e.g. ID, passport, or visa)
  • Is not allowed or able to speak (e.g., a third party may insist on being present and/or interpreting)

Example: Individuals may be forced to work in highly exploitative conditions with little to no pay.

Other Signs:

A victim of human trafficking…

  • May have been “branded” (e.g. a tattoo on the face or the trafficker’s name)
  • Claims to be “just visiting” and is unable to clarify where he/she is staying or to provide an address
  • Exhibits a lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or does not know what city he/she is in
  • Exhibits a loss of a sense of time
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story

Example: Traffickers sell women and children online everyday.

How to safely report human trafficking

  • Wait to report until you are in a place of safety
  • Note descriptions of persons of interest: ethnicity, height, hair color, tattoos or other distinguishing marks
  • Note the location and any other personal details
  • You may remain anonymous if you wish
  • Call the Polaris Human Trafficking Hotline (open 24/7) 1.888.373.7888


  • Call 911 or any local law enforcement

Make a difference: It’s OK if you are not sure if what you are seeing is human trafficking. Specialized law enforcement and services providers will review the information you submit. Your call can save lives.

Now take the quiz to see how much you've learned!

The public service campaign pictured above originated as Protect Oakland Kids, a collaborative effort of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, MISSSEY, Clear Channel Outdoor and the original design team of Suzanne Boutilier, Genice Jacobs and Jed Davis. Photo credit: Tom Page. © 2014 Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.