Your sitting at home comfortably on your couch when the doorbell rings. You look out the window and see a young person standing at your door, they may be collecting money for a charity, or selling something, but you pretend your not home and go back to your couch, never realizing that you just missed an opportunity to save the life of a human trafficking victim.
Door to door sales crews often recruit vulnerable individuals, how do I know I was one of them. I was recruited to sell encyclopedias door to door, given that I was a teenager and it was my 1st job I was an easy target. They promised me wages, meals, a hotel room every night, drinks, cigarettes and transportation in exchange for me starting a career with them, but you soon find out, it’s not a job it’s a way of indebtedness, you rely on them for everything and if you don’t start to sell you are soon indebted to them and it’s a vicious cycle as each sale is taken to pay past debt while new debt accumulates leaving the individual with no way out. As you travel to a new location daily you are isolated from your friends and family.
I was in New Zealand at the time and I was moved from Auckland to Hamilton. Please don’t believe that this only happens overseas it is rampant here in the USA as well. We have crews doing elderly scams, selling electricity rates and much more. If a crew member is non-compliant with crew rules or fails to make daily sales quotas, he or she risks being left behind in an unfamiliar city with no money to get home.
Why does this happen??
There are a number of issues that sales employees face. Employers can impose fake fees, inflate debt, or simply disappear. If confronted by their employee, they may threaten to call the police, particularly if the workers are drug users or undocumented migrants.
Alternately, a sales crew member may be classified on paper as an “independent contractor.” This shields the employer from having to provide basic guarantees such as workman’s compensation packages.Some of the coercive conditions under which sales crews’ work do not legally qualify as human trafficking but are nonetheless exploitative. It can be difficult to find the evidence necessary to classify an abusive employer as a trafficker.
Often civil cases relating to magazine sales crews are hard win as a a human to trafficking case. Often contracts are signed and employees are told they can leave…Fraud and coercion carry a high burden of proof. The problem is for a vulnerable youth with no other means of support they have no choice but to trust and go on.
How can you help?
If you come across someone selling magazines, cleaning supplies, or other items, you might request to see a city- or state-issued sales permit. Keep in mind there are legitimate employers of sales crews who treat their employees well. Not every member of a traveling sales crew is trafficked or work under exploitative conditions. But sometimes it is the ordinary citizen who senses that something is off and sets in motion an investigation. The police will field such calls, Center or, call our hotline toll-free on 1-833-4NEWDAY.