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  • Writer's pictureKim Westfall, Founder

Staying Safe Online

Updated: Feb 26

Human traffickers are no respecter of persons. They could come for anyone! 

Certain parts of the population are more vulnerable than others. We have launched into action to help protect the most vulnerable—like the women and children refugees fleeing war in Ukraine. We educate children and educators because we know traffickers prey on trusting and unsuspecting children. 

How can we best protect those at risk? We’ve given you tips recently on what to do if you encounter someone already trapped in trafficking. But we want to see this stopped before it ever happens! Education is a big key to prevention. A part of that education means understanding the risks of an online world and how to protect ourselves and our communities. 

As more people turn to online communications and at even younger ages, we must remain vigilant! 

The term grooming describes the method traffickers use to build an emotional connection so that they can exploit or extort victims. We recently shared how some traffickers groom their victims through the promise of a relationship (The Loverboy Method). Others promise a job, a trip, or other economic benefit. 

A growing way traffickers are grooming people is by using social media, messaging platforms, and online gaming. People who are seeking connection and support are particularly vulnerable to grooming online. 

When we go into schools, we talk about online safety with children. We are telling tens of thousands of travelers every day through our messages in transportation hubs like airports and train stations. Our signs and training with Border Patrol alert refugees to protect themselves by never sharing photos of themselves, their locations, or personal details through messaging or over the phone.

Here are a few more tips for staying safe online:

1. Have strict privacy settings

You can set social media accounts to private. Make sure to turn off your location sharing!

2. Be on the lookout for strange friend requests

Only accept friend requests from people you know. Do not chat with anyone online you do not know personally.

3. Don’t share too much personal information

Remember, anything you put online is public domain! Traffickers can use photos and personal details to groom, blackmail, or harass people. Never share personal information like your address, phone number, or live location. 

4. Beware of advertisements that are too good to be true

Traffickers use catchy job advertisements online (like the chance to make high pay for simple work or the chance to be a model, actress, etc). If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Traffickers are waiting for you to respond so they can trap you!

5. Flag suspicious pages or activities

If something feels suspicious, don’t share it. You can block or unfriend someone if they are talking to you in a way you don’t like. It’s also a good idea to screenshot messages that feel suspicious. They can be used in investigations later. 

(Source: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)

We hope these tips help you stay aware and active in preventing trafficking in your own communities. 

When you partner with the mission of Uncaged, you’re helping us keep people safe all across Europe! Your gifts help us unlock the cage. We want to see trafficking stopped once and for all! 

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