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Transcript of "What is labor trafficking?"

Produced by Massachusetts Attorney General's Office
Created February, 2021

See the video, What is labor trafficking?

That's Nora.  She is your neighbor's housekeeper.

She keeps to herself and works early in the morning and late at night.

She's just a hard worker,  right?

Well maybe not. You might be witnessing something called labor trafficking.

Nora may be in a desperate situation and unable to ask for help.

Someone like you could be her only hope.

What is labor trafficking?

Labor trafficking is modern day slavery.

It is taking advantage of a person for labor or sex and it is against the law.

It occurs in every part of the world, including here in Massachusetts.

It happens in cities, suburbs, and rural towns.

Human trafficking can happen to anyone.

Victims can be any age, race or gender. They can be U.S.  citizens or from other countries.

Traffickers tend to take advantage of victims who are struggling. 

They often look for people who have challenges with addiction, immigration status,  unstable housing, unemployment, language barriers, trauma or debt.

The  2 types of human trafficking are sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

Recognize labor trafficking when you see it

Just like Nora, victims of labor trafficking are often hidden in plain sight in homes and businesses

You may have seen labor trafficking before, but you did not recognize it or know it is a crime. 

Learn the signs so you can identify it and help the victims. Traffickers often force victims to work for little or no money.

They often use scare tactics and threats to isolate their victims and keep them from seeking help. They say things like:

  • “What? I don't owe you any wages!”

  • “You still owe me for rent,  transportation, food.”

  • “I will tell you when you worked it all off.”

  • “What are you gonna do? Run to the police? They will arrest you because you do not have documents.  Then what?”

  • “If you leave, I will send those embarrassing photos of you to your family. Think about how they will feel.”  

  • “If you snitch I will hurt her. Do not think I will not.”

  • “You still owe me.”

You probably will not hear traffickers saying these things to their victims.

But look for other signs. If a person:

  • Works for little or no pay.

  • Was promised benefits to take a job, but the promises were lies.

  • Has their wages withheld to ”repay” a debt.

  • Works long hours or does not get breaks.

  • Works in a building with high security measures like boarded up windows, barbed wire, or security cameras.

  • Cannot get to their passport, or government issued ID.

  • Does not get  the protective gear or medical attention they need.

  • Is threatened or controlled by their employer.

Any one of these could be a sign of labor trafficking and should be reported.

Every year, people report thousands of labor trafficking cases in the United States, but they do not notice or report thousands more.

That's because labor trafficking is a hidden crime, a crime whose signs may look just like a workplace or contract disagreement or a wage complaint.

Victims of labor trafficking may be afraid to come forward because their traffickers scare them and make them feel they are all alone. 

If something does not seem right, report it 

Trust your instincts.

Your report could help a victim get the support and help they need to leave their situation and get back their life and freedom 

You can help end labor trafficking in the commonwealth 

Visit the Massachusetts Attorney General's website to learn more about the signs of the crime.

Identify labor trafficking

Use the  Massachusetts Online Labor Trafficking Identification Tool

Report labor trafficking 

If someone is in immediate danger:

  • Call 911

  • The local authorities for 24/7 victim support.

The Massachusetts Attorney General's Fair Labor Division

(617) 727 3465 or 

[email protected]

  • or 

To report suspected trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline:


Reporting suspected labor trafficking can play a role in helping to give victims a voice and bring traffickers to justice.

 You can make a difference. You can help stop these horrible crimes

You could help someone take their life back.

It just takes a moment to know the signs.

Trust your instincts and report.

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