National Human Trafficking Hotline Expands to Text, Chat Services
Improvements add ways for survivors to reach out and connect to help
WASHINGTON, DC (Feb. 7, 2018)—The National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) announced today that it has expanded the modes of communication survivors can use to reach out and get connected to help to include 24/7 SMS texting and online chat services in both English and Spanish. This expansion provides additional, discreet ways for survivors to get connected to support through as many modes of communication as possible. Previously, communication from survivors and people reporting suspected tips was limited to phone calls, emails, and webforms, as well as limited hours for texting through a separate service provided by the Hotline’s operator, Polaris.
The number of human trafficking cases reported to the National Hotline has increased significantly every year since 2007. More than 7,600 cases were reported in 2016, and 2017 is projected to surpass that number by 10 to 20 percent. More survivors than ever are also reaching out to access services. Polaris will be releasing data in early March on the cases reported to the National Hotline across the entirety of 2017.
“As technology evolves, so must the National Hotline so survivors can reach out in whichever way they are most comfortable with, allowing them to get connected to the help that’s available across the nation,” said Caroline Diemar, Director of the National Human Trafficking Hotline. “We consistently hear from survivors that they need as many options as possible to access help, and text and chat offer a safe way to speak with our trained hotline advocates, especially when traffickers are nearby.”
Polaris launched an independent SMS service, the BeFree Textline (233733), in March 2013 that provided similar capabilities the National Human Trafficking Hotline offered through the phone, but was limited to certain periods of the day and only in English. As part of this change, the BeFree shortcode is now fully integrated into the National Hotline. Online chat, which is accessible from www.humantraffickinghotline.org, is a completely new service. Callers can still access the Hotline via the phone (including in more than 200 languages through the use of a secure translation service), email, and webform.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline is operated by Polaris and funded through Grant Number 90ZV0134-01-00 from the Office on Trafficking in Persons, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Polaris was awarded a new three year grant in September 2017, which is making these text and chat services possible.
About the National Human Trafficking Hotline
The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a 24/7, confidential, and multilingual lifeline that provides support and a variety of options for survivors of human trafficking to get connected to help and stay safe. Through a network of nearly 4,000 partner service providers and trusted law enforcement, trained hotline advocates take tips of suspected human trafficking from community members and help survivors build plans so they can safely leave their situations or get the help they need to rebuild their lives. The National Hotline can communicate via phone in more than 200 languages through a translation service, as well as text, chat, email, and webform in English and Spanish. The National Hotline is operated by Polaris and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other donors. People can get connected to help, report a tip, or find services by calling the National Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, texting “BeFree” (233733), or visiting www.humantraffickinghotline.org.