BREVARD COUNTY - The COVID-19 pandemic changed the daily routines of millions of Americans, including how human traffickers operate their criminal enterprises—driving even more illicit activity online. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, crisis cases handled by the organization increased nationwide by more than 40% during April 2020, one month following the issuance of shelter-in-place orders, with the number of victims seeking emergency shelter nearly doubling during the same time period.

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month and Attorney General Ashley Moody has taken note of the increase calling the preliminary report "heartbreaking and disturbing" adding that it shows " just how much work needs to be done to stop these monsters from forcing more innocent lives into this despicable, illicit enterprise."

In a release Moody encourages all Floridians to learn the signs of human trafficking and take preventative action to protect yourself and your children’s online activity from human traffickers looking to exploit the virtual world to advance this repulsive, heinous crime.”

Tips to avoid human trafficking:

-Use a secure internet connection;

-Delete search and browser history to keep traffickers from accessing private information;

-Check privacy settings on social media accounts and disable automatic GPS tracking;

-Be wary of the content you post online and do not reveal too much personal information or your location;

-Block or filter spam emails that might contain a virus;

-Teach your children how to safely use the internet and monitor their online activity and social media accounts; and

-Use parental controls to limit your child’s internet access.

If you suspect or witness any instance of human trafficking, contact local law enforcement or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1(888) 373-7888.

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