Big Fight on Financial Systems

Equip the Global Financial Sector to Disrupt Sex and Labor Trafficking at Scale

Financial services are vital to running any kind of business – including human trafficking enterprises. Access to financial services is also a key piece of rebuilding a life after trafficking. With this in mind, Polaris has joined forces with the world’s leading financial services companies to understand how traffickers use these businesses and how to stop them, and to ensure survivors can access banks and other services they need to get back on their financial feet.

By partnering with anti-money laundering professionals and financial services businesses we will substantially improve the way trafficking is investigated and prosecuted – and in doing so, make trafficking less profitable, and more dangerous than ever for the traffickers.

The Problem

Human trafficking is a diverse crime but behind all the complexity, human trafficking is, inherently, a profitable commercial enterprise. Worldwide, the industry of human trafficking is estimated to generate $150 billion per year, with $99 billion coming from sex trafficking and $51 billion from labor trafficking and exploitation.

According to the ILO human trafficking generates

$ 0 Billion
$ 0 Billion
Sex Trafficking
$ 0 Billion
labor trafficking

The Financial Systems Plan


Disrupt human trafficking businesses on a global scale.


Shift financing practices to reward businesses with good labor practices.


Bolster financial resiliency of vulnerable populations.

Financial Services Intersection

Trafficking businesses, like virtually all businesses, need credit cards, debit cards, checking accounts, and other financial services to operate. The details matter. Understanding the specifics – how “escort services” pay for hotel rooms, or agriculture workers send money to home countries, is the key to stopping these criminal businesses from operating.

Our Impact

We will equip the global financial sector to disrupt sex and labor trafficking at scale by partnering with the financial services industry to implement a comprehensive and industry-wide strategy. We envision the following impact:

Global financial services companies are able to quickly identify suspicious activities related to trafficking and respond effectively, coordinating with law enforcement.

Financial actors supporting businesses at risk for forced labor incorporate considerations and prioritize businesses with practices that protect workers from trafficking.

Global financial services industry changes their policies and protocols to remove barriers to access financial services for trafficking survivors and other vulnerable populations.

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Financial Intelligence Unit

From pimps who need to cover their hotel bills with credit cards to large scale-agriculture operations who pay shady recruiters through payroll systems, there is not a single human trafficking operation in this day and age that can exist outside the legitimate financial system. And that creates opportunity. Polaris is working with some of the nation’s financial industry leaders, building tools to help uncover money laundering and human trafficking.

Help disrupt sex and labor trafficking businesses on a global scale using financial structures and processes.


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We envision a reality in which financial investigations will routinely be used to identify the most profitable and significant entities involved in sex and labor trafficking and that these actors will be held accountable through criminal justice and financial mechanisms.

Additional Resources

Need help? Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.