Safe Shepherd provides automated online privacy protection and data cleanup for clients on a subscription basis.
For consumers who feel comfortable without a human element involved in their digital privacy strategy, Safe Shepherd can be an affordable and accessible way to address information exposure. Automated tracking and notifications, plus some support on how to handle various “unsupported” websites, make security more accessible.
Safe Shepherd is a startup that emerged in 2012 under the direction of Rob Leshner. The automated service addresses consumer privacy concerns quickly and without the need for in-person or phone consultations.
Safe Shepherd is a highly automated service that trolls people finding sites for your information. It also monitors the web for vulnerabilities in your social media posts and profiles, then recommends that you take action to lock down your privacy.
Signing up takes only three minutes, the site explains, and you can begin to see the service in action in real time.
But how does the service work?
Consumers receive alerts through a customer dashboard. According to a screengrab on Safe Shepherd’s site, the dashboard includes alerts on records identification and the removal process. It also provides an overall safety score, access to “your privacy expert,” and other settings.
Your alerts arrive in real time, so you can find out immediately when your personal data shows up on a website. You can also see the status of opt-out requests, but more on that below.
On the dashboard, you’ll see green, red, and grey alerts. The green ones show resolved privacy concerns while red ones indicate found information and often information on how to proceed with data removal.
Automatic Opt-Out Requests
Once your data shows up on a site, the Safe Shepherd system automatically selects the appropriate response. Whether it’s an online record removal request or a letter via snail mail, the automated function takes the necessary action.
Most people finding sites offer ways to get your information out of their databases. The problem is that most people don’t have time to navigate those forms themselves. Or, you may not know where to start.
Safe Shepherd’s algorithms locate your details, fill in what forms it can, and alerts the service staff to any non-computer action that is necessary.
What if Safe Shepherd Can’t Help?
In some instances, the company can’t help. They note on their Handbook page that they can only act on “supported” websites. In general, this means big-name people-searching sites—AKA data brokers—and their affiliates.
In such cases, Safe Shepherd’s experts advise consumers on what steps to take next. For example, their Handbook contains a long list of unsupported sites. Advice ranges from paying to remove records (on 411.info) to filling out opt-out forms (Addresses.com), sending support emails (411.com), or changing your account information (Amazon).
However, Safe Shepherd cautions consumers that its service doesn’t constitute legal advice, and they are not liable for any adverse effects of your use of their platform or recommendations.
How Fast Do Records Drop Off?
How quickly your data drops off a website depends on the webmaster or system’s response time. It can also depend on what form of opt-out paperwork the site requires—whether that’s snail mail or an online submission form.
It can take up to a month or two for some data to drop off. Plus, if you search for your name on Google, the results from websites that have confirmed your information removal can still show up in the results. This is because Google’s algorithms still populate the sites until it realizes the links are inactive.
As Safe Shepherd explains, they don’t focus on bumping results from Google (like other companies do through content creation). They reason that Google’s results will automatically update about every 45 days anyway, so you just need to wait for that to happen.
Based on 2013 articles about the company—the last year it received maximum publicity—Safe Shepherd pricing starts at $13.95 per month. The Handbook does mention the same price, though it’s unclear when the handbook last received an update. Per the Handbook, the yearly cost is $95 billed annually.
Unfortunately, the company doesn’t list Safe Shepherd plans or options on its website. However, it’s clear from their website that an upgraded “VIP” option is also available to consumers who want a more customized experience.
Subscriptions are recurring, so billing proceeds automatically unless you cancel promptly.
Free Trials of Safe Shepherd
Fortunately, you can also try the service for ten days before subscribing. The free trial has limited functionality in that there won’t be enough time to address every found result. But it can begin removing some of your information from the web while you decide whether to purchase a full subscription.
Consultations and Fees
While email consultations are free, Safe Shepherd’s Handbook notes, phone consultations come at a price. If you want to speak with a representative, you must pay $24.95.
Customers who have left Safe Shepherd reviews in places like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website note that it’s challenging to cancel a subscription or get their automatic payments stopped.
On Safe Shepherd’s Terms of Service page, they explain that to cancel your subscription or even delete your account, all you need to do is log into your dashboard. Then, navigate to your Identity Vault, click on Membership, and click “Downgrade.”
It makes sense that canceling is complicated when the button itself doesn’t say “cancel.” Fortunately, you don’t have to contact customer service for help, unless you have a billing issue you need to resolve. However, Safe Shepherd does say in their Handbook section to both click the button and send an email to them.
Deleting your account is straightforward, too—just click on “Delete Account” at the bottom of the Identity Vault page.
Odds are, you can vastly improve your online privacy without interacting with another human being. The bad news is, if you want human support, you have to pay extra.