“I’VE SEEN SOMETHING THAT MAY BE SUSPICIOUS OF TRAFFICKING OR IS INAPPROPRIATE. HOW DO I REPORT IT?”
Please exercise good judgement when making a report. All tips are taken seriously, however, conspiracy-related reports from people with no direct knowledge of trafficking situations can overwhelm services meant for victims.
We are not a law enforcement body and cannot investigate trafficking leads. If you or someone you know is in danger, please contact local authorities immediately using all relevant channels of communication including: telephone, email, submissions via law enforcement websites, etc. Please leverage investigative bodies such as city police departments, county sheriff offices, state police and federal law enforcement including the FBI or HSI. Alternatively you can contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or visit their website at www.humantraffickinghotline.org to report a tip.
We have compiled a guide of helpful resources to report potential human trafficking and exploitation cases. Although we are not a reporting agency, if you have exhausted all methods as outlined here you may fill out the leads form included in this blog post.
Be an O.U.R. Responder
There are physical, emotional, and behavioral signs of human trafficking to look for.
Some of these signs may include:
- Signs of violence, concussions, broken bones, burn marks, cuts, bruising
- Similar tattoos in the same location on two or more people, or a tattoo that looks like branding
- Dressed inappropriately for the weather outside or for their age
- Living in unsuitable living conditions
- Fear or depression
- Having large amounts of cash on-hand, or slips of paper with dollar amounts and contact info
- Multiple cell phones, hotel keys, false IDs
- Evidence of being controlled, loss of freedom
This is just a small list of many potential signs of human trafficking. Some signs and situations may be more nuanced, so trust your intuition and try to observe more of the story. Human trafficking can happen in any neighborhood, city, state, or country.
Take O.U.R.’s free online training for a more in-depth learning experience with videos, quizzes, and examples. It takes around 45 minutes – 1 hour to complete.
Asking the right questions will help you determine if the person you are interacting with is a victim of trafficking and in need of help.
- You can start by speaking directly with the potential victim and starting a simple conversation such as “What is your name?” or “What do you do for work?”
- If appropriate and safe, consider asking bolder questions such as “Do you get paid for your work?” or “Has someone you work with ever threatened you with physical harm?”
- Engaging with a trafficker can put you and/or the victim in serious danger. If you suspect a trafficker is present, back off and find a safe space to alert local authorities. Do not say or do anything to compromise your personal safety.
- Follow the simple phrase: “If you see something, say something.”
- If you ever encounter a minor engaging in commercial sex, call 911 or contact local authorities immediately.
- In urgent situations, you may want to step away to alert authorities. If a suspected victim or trafficker gets out of your sight, you can still report what you saw.
- If you decided not to report something but days later felt like you should have, know that it is never too late to report a tip. See below for trusted resources to report both online and in-person situations.
Operation Underground Railroad does not provide emergency services. We cannot intervene or participate in investigations without an invitation from law enforcement. Here are the steps to take if you need to report a situation.
REPORTING AN IN-PERSON SITUATION
United States Resources
- If you or another person are in immediate danger, please call 911 to receive help from local authorities.
- If you have information about the person/people potentially being trafficked, you can report it to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and they can give you recommendations about what to do. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is 888-373-7888. Visit their website to learn how you can also report through live chat, text, an online form, or email. https://humantraffickinghotline.org/
- If you feel you have enough details, you can report them using the O.U.R. Leads Form. We will be in touch should our law enforcement contacts need more information. We do not work independently of law enforcement. Our law enforcement contacts will be the first entity that receives these leads to avoid bifurcation of efforts. http://bit.ly/2J5iNs2
- If you or another person are in immediate danger, please alert local authorities.
- If you have information about the person/people potentially being trafficked, you can report it to your country’s national hotline. You can reference It’s A Penalty’s map to find the appropriate reporting mechanism in every country worldwide.
- If you feel you have enough details, you can report them using the O.U.R. Leads Form. We will be in touch should our law enforcement contacts need more information. We do not work independently of law enforcement. Our law enforcement contacts will be the first entity these receives these leads, to avoid bifurcation of efforts. http://bit.ly/2J5iNs2
REPORTING Online EXPLOITATION
If you or another person are in immediate danger, please alert local authorities first.
Many social media platforms have in-app tools to report human trafficking and child exploitation. For example, here is Facebook’s page to report human trafficking. Other platform’s tools, if they exist, can be found in their help centers.
Every U.S. state has an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. Most states have a contact email to report online child exploitation. If your state has a reporting form or email provided, you can report your information there. Check out the list here.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a CyberTipline to report anything to do with child exploitation or abuse. Information entered into this report will be made available to law enforcement for possible investigation.
If you have seen child sexual abuse material and you live abroad, you can use this search tool to find your country’s reporting form or hotline.
Lastly, you can also report using the O.U.R. Leads Form. We will be in touch should our law enforcement contacts need more information. We do not work independently of law enforcement. Our law enforcement contacts will be the first entity that receives these leads to avoid bifurcation of efforts. http://bit.ly/2J5iNs2