Many retailers take a hard line against shoplifters to deter them. You could face criminal charges for even a relatively small-value theft. A criminal charge or conviction typically won't impact your credit score. However, the retailer may also bring civil charges to recover damages if you steal items of significant value.

Charges and Judgments

If a retailer sues you for damages in a civil court, you naturally have a right to defend yourself. Of course, a criminal conviction hinders your defense. If you settle, or if the court issues judgment against you, you must pay damages. If you fail to do so, a default judgment is often the next step. This judgment may lead to garnishment of wages and can severely affect your credit score.