Sex Trafficking

Credit Card Companies Move To Fight Sex Trafficking Ads

The big three credit card companies, Master Card, Visa, and American Express, are prohibiting cardholders from using credit cards on the adult page ads on Backpage.com.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE
Audio version of this story here.

The big three credit card companies, MasterCard, Visa and American Express, are prohibiting cardholders from using credit cards for adult ads on the classified advertising website Backpage.com

Backpage.com, the largest ad listing website in the U.S. after Craigslist, and other sites have come under fire over their adult page ads.

Authorities and anti-trafficking advocates have accused Backpage and others of allowing the sex trafficking of minors through these adult Web pages.

Alex Troutead is the executive director of youthSpark, an Atlanta-based organization that works to prevent sex trafficking of minors.

Troutead said during an interview on “A Closer Look,” that the move by the credit card companies is an important one.

“Every U.S. company, every international company, should say to themselves, to their shareholders, they’re just not going to be involved in this kind of activity, they just won’t be affiliated with it whatsoever. So, it’s great the major companies finally came to that realization.”

The FBI estimates almost 240,000 children are at risk of becoming sex trafficking victims in the United States. Atlanta ranks among the top 14 U.S. cities for the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

In Georgia, youthSpark estimates some 200 girls – averaging between the ages of 12 and 14 years old – are trafficked every month for sex.

“I think people have a hard time translating one website and what that actually looks like in terms of the number of young people affected by that negatively,” Troutead said.

In response to the outcry, Backpage.com has reportedly announced plans to stop charging users to post ads in its adult section, but it will not take the ads down.

“We expected this,” Troutead said.

“Backpage was recently sold to a Dutch company. It’s still a U.S.-based operation and so they’re trying to preserve their asset value, which really boils down to the number of perspective buyers who are going there looking for people to purchase for sex and it boils down to the number of people who are posting these ads.”