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There Are 12.5 Unprotected Versions of the Average American’s Personal Information on the Web

Safe Shepherd is a company that searches the web for all the public records available on Americans, and then presents them in a dashboard. Try it for yourself—it’s free—and the results are almost guaranteed to be unnerving. The information is mostly innocuous, and includes your address, phone number and email, but the fact that it’s public is more than enough to create a healthy stream of business for Safe Shepherd, which, according to founder Robert Leshner, is “lightly profitable.”

Safe Shepherd isn’t very big. Founded in 2011, it’s just seven people and has received only a single round of seed funding, from 500 Startups and OCA Ventures. Even so, it’s managed to nab three large clients—a “people search” engine, a credit-monitoring company, and an anti-virus firm, all of which are using Safe Shepherd’s database and tools to sell their customers their own branded versions of the service. (It won’t say who those clients are.)

Collectively, those clients have used Safe Shepherd to conduct millions of searches on behalf of their customers. The results show that the average American has 12.5 personal records freely available online. For reasons that Leshner can’t begin to explain, the average is higher in the south.

Safe Shepherd lets you find out what’s on the web about you for free if you come directly to its site. But to have your records automatically expunged, it will charge you $15 a month. It has agreements with the main people-finding sites to make this process seamless. Safe Shepherd doesn’t have many competitors, as personal data protection is still a relatively small industry, but they include Reputation.com, which is focused on search engines, and MyID.com, which focuses on removing people from public databases.

Read more at Quartz.

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