Most people don’t see a connection between credit scores and criminal charges, but if a store pursues someone over shoplifting, they may worry about marks on their financial and criminal records. In this article are things people should know about shoplifting’s effects on credit history.
Retailers’ Stance on Shoplifting
Most retailers take a hard stance against shoplifters, and people can face charges for even a small theft. Criminal convictions and charges don’t normally affect a credit score, but retailers can file civil charges to win damages in cases where valuable items are stolen.
Judgments and Charges
If a store sues for damages, a person has the right to defend themselves. However, criminal convictions can hinder a defense. If the case is settled or judgment is passed, the defendant must pay damages. If they fail to do so, default judgments are the next step. Judgments can lead to wage garnishment, and they can appear on a person’s credit score.
Most crimes have no effect on credit score. A person’s credit report is a detailed record of their finances, including judgments for unpaid debts. Criminal records only include criminal convictions. Shoplifting accusations, however, represent a combination of the two. Stores often send civil demand letters to shoplifters, asking for reimbursement on top of criminal fines associated with convictions. Demand letters often threaten litigation if the price isn’t paid, and many believe that failing to pay the penalty can result in negative effects on credit.
Credit and Crime
In most cases, civil demand letters are not enforceable without a court judgment. Most claims are lower than the cost of litigation, so many businesses don’t follow up their demands with legal action. Criminal charges can become public record, but civil demand letters cannot end up on a person’s credit report. Failing to pay fines or follow a judge’s orders can result in penalties, but ignoring demand letters won’t have a negative effect.
Most people facing shoplifting charges are better served using their money for Defense Lawyers rather than paying a civil demand. Defense Lawyers can help a person dispute shoplifting charges or get a plea bargain, and can help clients get criminal records expunged.