Detail, ‘Stolen Kisses,’ Thomas Rowlandson, 1756-1827, via Wikimedia Commons (faithful photographic reproduction of art in the public domain).

Spy now, or forever hold your peace

Think the deluge of personal information online has put private investigators out of business? Think again. According to no less a business authority than the Wall Street Journal, background checks for “deal-breaking secrets and habits” have surged in the last few years as the Web Sends Lovers Flocking to Private Eyes to Find Out Truth.

It turns out that a little knowledge is not just a dangerous thing; it’s a downright addictive thing:

Investigators … say the uptick in business reflects a world in which a person can divine the outline of another’s life with a simple Google search. The Internet, they say, is like a gateway drug to professional snooping.

“What they are getting is just enough information to make them curious,” said Mr. Bussard.

In fact, census data show the industry doubled in revenue between 2002 and 2012, going from $2.6 million to $5.2 million, author Joe Palazzolo writes.

Many of the clients are the same as they’ve always been: marriage-minded but wary lovebirds and their less-than-impressed parents and siblings, Palazzolo writes. But people are also calling in the sleuths a whole lot earlier, too, hoping to find out whether that online dating-site profile is in the ballpark of the truth — or at least on the same side of the Mississippi — before it’s too late.

Personally, I can’t wait to see the effect of all this vetting, say, 10 years down the road. Knowing the truth, will fewer couples marry? Marrying with that knowledge, will fewer couples divorce?

Either way, it seems like a good time to polish up your pre-nup skills.

About Barbara Grzincic

Barbara Grzincic is managing editor at The Daily Record and edits TDR's Maryland Family Law Update.

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