Know the Signs


Human trafficking is a crime that often goes unreported because of its covert nature. Below are a few indicators for how to recognize this horrific illegal activity. Overall, though, we recommend that you trust your gut. If something doesn't seem right about a situation, it's better to report it than to regret not doing it later.

Social Indicators

  • Potential victim is accompanied by another person who seems controlling and/or insists on speaking for the victim
  • Frequent relocation
  • Numerous inconsistencies in his or her story
  • Neglected healthcare needs
  • Are not in control of their own money
  • Lack of control of identification documents
  • Individual is using false identification papers
  • Restricted or scripted communication
  • Excess amount of cash
  • Hotel room keys
  • Chronic runaway/homeless youth
  • Signs of branding (tattoo, jewelry)
  • Lying about age
  • Lack of knowledge of given community or whereabouts
  • Exhibits behaviors including hyper-vigilance or paranoia, nervousness, tension, submission, etc.


Health Indicators

  • Signs of physical abuse (bruises, burns, cuts, scars, etc)
  • Malnourishment
  • Evidence of trauma
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Psychological problems (depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidal ideation, panic attacks, Stockholm's Syndrome, fear/distrust)


Questions to Keep in Mind

  • Are they being forced to do something they don't want to do?
  • Is the person allowed to leave their place of work?
  • Has the person been physically and/or sexually abused?
  • Has the person been threatened?
  • Does the person have a passport and other documents, or are they taken away?
  • Has the person been paid for his/her work or services?
  • How many hours does the person work a day?
  • What are the living conditions?
  • How did the person find out about the job?
  • Do they have to ask permission to eat, sleep, etc?
  • Do they believe they owe money for their travel or other expenses?
  • Has anyone threatened their family?
  • Where do they eat and sleep?


What to Do

If you believe someone is a victim of Human Trafficking:

  • Call 911
  • Indianapolis Trafficked Persons Assistance Program 24-hr hotline: 1-800-928-6403
  • National Human trafficking Resource Center Hotline: 1-888-3737-888 or send a text to BeFree (233733)
  • Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1-800-800-5556