How Property Managers and Multi-Family Employees Can Help Identify Human Trafficking

Human trafficking may seem like something that only happens in the movies or in “bad areas”. However, this problem is more widespread than many people think. According to 14,500 – 17,500 victims are trafficked to the United States each year, and many others are moved between the borders of the country itself. As a property manager or employee of a multi-family property, you have a unique responsibility to watch out for these situations and report them to the proper authorities.

These are “red flags”. It is important to note that not every sign means that human trafficking is present, and not every human trafficking case will present with ANY of these signs. While every situation is different, consider the following signs (adapted from you can look for during your workday.

Work and Home Conditions:

  • Cannot come or go as he or she wishes
  • Works in the sex industry with a manager or pimp
  • Is underpaid
  • Works excessive or unusual hours
  • Suffers unusual work restrictions
  • Faces a debt he or she can never pay off
  • Was recruited to a job with false promises
  • Unusually high-security measures exist at work or home site (bars on windows, multiple locks, etc.)

Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior:

  • Submissive, nervous and paranoid
  • Unusually fearful of law enforcement and other officials
  • Avoids eye contact with others

Poor Physical Health:

  • Lacks health care by employer
  • Does not appear to eat regularly/is malnourished
  • Shows signs of physical or sexual abuse

Lack of Control:

  • Owns few possessions
  • Does not control his or her money
  • Does not have access to his or her documents such as an ID or passport
  • Cannot speak for him or herself


  • Cannot provide information about where he or she lives
  • Does not know anything about the city he or she lives
  • No sense of time
  • Inconsistent stories

If you see any of the signs above or anything else that makes you feel uncomfortable, do not get involved yourself—contact 911 if you notice someone in immediate danger. On the other hand, you can report suspicious activities anonymously to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888. The most important thing to do is NOT to turn away. It is up to you to act on your suspicions—you could help save a life!

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