Human trafficking

Know the signs

Dear Friends,

Human trafficking is the theft of someone’s freedom for profit. Traffickers prey on vulnerable members of our communities and traumatize people of all types — right in front of us. New York’s diverse and vibrant industries unfortunately make our state a crossroads for trafficking.

My office is committed to monitoring and ending human trafficking — and we need your help. Know the signs of trafficking. Find out who provides the products and services you buy and the food you eat. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911 or the national hotline at (888) 373-7888. Report trafficking in your community to my office at (800) 771-7755.

New York State Attorney General Signature
Headshot of Attorney General Letitia James

What is human trafficking?

  • Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.
  • Trafficking does not have to involve movement across borders.
  • Anyone under the age of 18 involved in a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, even if they do not seem to be forced, defrauded, or coerced.

Where to look for trafficking

You might expect it in massage parlors, hotels, and brothels. But did you know that trafficking is also common in:

  • Health and beauty businesses
  • Truck stops
  • Private homes
  • Domestic or homecare agencies
  • Door-to-door sales
  • Restaurants
  • Peddling and begging
  • Farms
  • Construction
  • Landscaping
  • Commercial cleaning services
  • Factories and manufacturing
  • Carnivals Forestry and logging
  • Health care
  • Gyms

Anyone could be trafficked, but traffickers typically prey on vulnerable people who are easier to recruit and control. Undocumented migrants, runaway or at-risk youth, and oppressed or marginalized groups are among the most common victims.

Someone may be trafficked if they:

  • Are apparently under the age of 18 and are performing prostitution or commercial sex acts
  • Show bruising, frequent injuries, prolonged lack of health care, or signs of malnourishment or fatigue
  • Have distinctive brands, scars, or tattoos
  • Exhibit signs of fear, anxiety, depression, submission, tension, or nervousness; do not make eye contact
  • Fear law enforcement
  • Are ignorant of simple orienting facts, such as where they live, what city they are in, or the time and date
  • Do not control their own money, identification documents, or bank accounts
  • Are not allowed to leave work sites or residences by themselves, or have long or unusual working hours
  • Have restricted or controlled communication, or a third party who insists on being present or translating for them
  • Share a script or confusing and inconsistent stories with others; appear to have been coached
  • Are under constant surveillance in public · Have few or no personal possessions

Look for suspicious conditions

  • Presence of heavy security at a commercial establishment, like barred windows, security cameras, locks, heavy isolation, guards, or guard dogs
  • Employees who appear to live at the business or are escorted by a guard between living quarters and work site
  • Presence of a guardian or overseer who appears to be older or wealthier
  • Heavy foot or vehicle traffic in unusual places
  • A disproportionate number of men at establishment
  • Large amounts of cash and contraception
  • Presence of a customer logbook or receipt book
  • Lack of legitimate, expected business equipment
  • Large numbers of workers living in the same space, particularly in a space not normally suited as a living space


Think someone is in immediate danger?

Call 911

Suspect trafficking activity?

The 24/7, confidential, multilingual National Human Trafficking Hotline is for trafficking victims, survivors, and witnesses: Call 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733

Report your tips to the Office of the New York Attorney General:

Call 1-800-771-7755