Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs for Families

You may have learned of the kidnapping through your loved one’s employer, the US government or the kidnappers may have contacted you directly. If you are not in touch with the US government, contact the FBI who will lead on the government response. You can contact the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell by emailing: HRFCfamilies@ic.fbi.gov
Hostage US offers a range of support services entirely free of charge. We will allocate a member of our team to be your point of contact. They will be with you every step of the way. We also have a number of professional support services, such as lawyers, financial advisors, communications experts and regional experts. We can help you to access counselors should you need their help.

Our support is tailored to what you want and need.

You can also find information on the website to help you to help yourself. If you don’t find what you are looking for, get in touch and we will do our best to help.

You can email us at info@hostageus.org or call our free 24/7 helpline at 888-284-1010.

When you call the helpline, you will be asked to provide some basic information about who you are, who has been taken and where. A member of our team will take the information from you. Once we know a little about you, your needs and where you are in the country, we will allocate the right person to be in touch with you. That person will call you back within 24-36 hours of you calling the helpline and that is when your support starts.

If you have an urgent request, please let us know when you call the helpline and someone will call you straight back.

All support from Hostage US is delivered free of charge.
Hostage US is an independent non-partisan non-profit. We are not part of the US government. We work collaboratively with the government in order to bring the best support to families and returning hostages.

We are entirely confidential. We will not tell the US government we are in touch unless we have your permission. We never pass information from you to the government. You can trust that anything you tell us will stay within the organization.

Hostage US never shares information about the families and former hostages we support. We respect your need for privacy. We never reveal which families we are supporting. We never pass information you have given us to anyone outside the organization.
Hostage US is not involved in operational responses to kidnapping. We are not able to advise on negotiations or other efforts to secure the release of your loved one. We can help you to ask the right questions of whoever is leading negotiations.
Hostage US can help you to access information about the group holding your loved one or the country or region where they are being held. We will work with you to understand what you want to know and then help to identify experts you can talk to who can be trusted to maintain confidentiality around you and the event.

There are many public sources of information that you can access, such as:

The CIA World Factbook is a good source of key social, economic, and political information about every country: www.cia.gov

The Economist’s series of country briefings is a good source of recent current affairs coverage for most countries: www.economist.com

Be aware that kidnapping trends can change quickly or be inaccurate: in regions of corrupt law enforcement, kidnapping may be unreported or may be exaggerated. There are organizations and companies that offer political/security analysis of local risks. Hostage US does not offer any endorsements.

The survival rate in kidnapping is high. The greatest risk to a hostage is during or just after the abduction, either because of wounding during the struggle or due to pre-existing medical conditions.

Most hostages return home.

Hostage US does not give advice on the payment of ransoms. Many governments have a long-standing policy not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. In some countries, the payment of ransoms is illegal.
In most cases, families are advised to keep the kidnapping out of the public eye. This might be a demand of the kidnappers. It is important to seek out advice before commenting in the media. Hostage US can help you to access expert advice.

FAQs for Hostages

Hostage US is here for you. You do not need to go through this alone. When you are ready, get in touch. We can help you to connect with other people who have been through similar experiences. We can help you to access medical treatment. We can find counselors to offer professional and structured assistance. We can also ensure you have help in organizing your financial affairs.
You can get in touch by calling our free 24/7 helpline at 888-284-1010 or emailing us at info@hostageus.org

Get in touch, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you have experienced and a member of our team will get in touch.

Hostage US support is provided free of charge.
Hostage US is an independent non-partisan non-profit. We are not part of the US government. We work collaboratively with the government in order to bring the best support to families and returning hostages.

We are entirely confidential. We will not tell the US government we are in touch unless we have your permission. We never pass information from you to the government. You can trust that anything you tell us will be kept totally confidential.

Hostage US never shares information about the former hostages we support. We respect your need for privacy. We never reveal who we are supporting. We never pass information you have given us to anyone outside the organization.
Hostage US is here for as long as it takes. We recognize that for some people, support may be needed many months or years after they are released. Sometimes problems further down the line can trigger a reaction which means you need support. It is never too late to get in touch. We are always here to help.
Hostage US supports all returning hostages, regardless of whether their family accessed our support during the kidnapping. Don’t hesitate – get in touch.
Hostage US is here for all families and former hostages. Sometimes families and hostages wish to be supported separately from one another. Some prefer that their family do not know they are accessing our help. We deal with everyone confidentially. We will not inform your family that we are in contact.
We are a confidential service. We will never tell anyone that we are supporting you – even your family – without your express permission.

FAQs for Organizations

Many organizations that have experienced a kidnapping reflect that they had failed to have in place a policy and procedures to support the family during the kidnapping or the hostage after their release. By not paying attention to the human dynamics of a kidnapping, not only do families suffer, but organizations feel the strain too. With simple and effective advice, organizations can easily put in place what they need to perform this role well. Hostage US can help you to do this.
Some organizations differentiate between staff and contractors or freelancers in the support offered to families and returning hostages. Regardless of the nature of the employment contract, families will look to you for support. It is easier and simpler to provide this up front, than try to build the relationship later. Doing the right thing is usually in the best interests of the organization as well as the family.
Hostage US is here to provide support to all US families and returning hostages – but we cannot and should not replace the support you provide to your staff and their dependents. We work directly with families and hostages – they are our sole focus.

We are happy to offer informal help and advice to organizations experiencing a kidnapping to ensure you have knowledge about how best to support the hostage’s family. But we will not replace your role with them.

Hostage US is a source of best practice in family support and hostage reintegration. We make our guides and knowledge as freely available as possible via our website in order to help you to improve the support you offer. We can offer informal guidance during a kidnapping to help you as you support the family. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.
If you have a member of staff or contractor kidnapped, please share information about Hostage US with their family. They are welcome to get in touch with us and we will provide assistance directly to them.

We work confidentially, so the family can be secure in the knowledge that we will not pass information they give us to you as the hostage’s employers. We are happy to work as part of a wider support team alongside you, but only at the request of the family.

Hostage US runs a comprehensive Education Program. We run regular seminars around the country and offer tailored training for organizations.
Further information about our seminars and public events is available on the website. If you are interested in having Hostage US provide training for your organization, get in touch.
Seminars and training are a paid service. Payment details for seminars is available on the website. Training costs are based on requirements and length of training.
Although our primary function is to help US hostages and their family members, we are happy to work with employers and organizations based overseas as much as our resources and expertise allow.