Banks: The Unexpected Heroes Against Human Trafficking

An estimated 25 million individuals are exploited for forced labor or sexual exploitation worldwide. Human trafficking earns an estimated $150 billion annually for traffickers. According to Fortune, many financial institutions are beginning to show how banks and law enforcement can work together to combat trafficking. Traffickers often leave financial footprints funneling money through accounts and transferring large sums quickly. Repeated deposits and withdraws as well as, credit transactions and purchases through classified ads can be flagged by software and submitted to law enforcement.

Several major banks including JPMorgan, Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America launched a team devoted to the problem of human trafficking. The group collaborated with the Manhattan district attorney’s office to find the best ways to identify trafficking and implement software detecting suspicious activity. Iowa-based MetaBank also developed technology monitoring prepaid cards which can be used by traffickers as a tool to transfer funds between countries. When suspicious activity is detected, information is given to law enforcement.

Law enforcement, internet firms and financial institutions may not be able to end human trafficking on their own. However, in working together, they can disrupt traffickers’ operations, rescue victims and ensure justice is served.