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Civil demand letter: What does my future hold?

Northbrook, IL |

I was caught shoplifting in November about 300 worth of clothing from a very expensive line. I dumped, but because i had removed the sensor tags, had to pay them for the clothing since they could not resell it. I was then issued a civil demand letter of 400, and have been paying it off in monthly increments of 50. I'm not defending my actions, i know it was wrong and am actually glad i was caught, because it was a major wakeup call. I owe 250, still. My question is this, does this go on my permanent record? If i apply for a job, will they find out about it? Does this effect my ability to apply for a credit card? In retrospect, what are the PERMANENT consequences of this. How soon will the temporary consequences go away?

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Attorney answers 3


DO NOT PAY any more on the civil demand. You may have already harmed yourself. Please go to this link:

More than likely this is not on a criminal record. However, your name is most likely in a database and could affect your chances for employment is certain professions.

You should have consulted with an attorney prior to taking any action.


Attorney Goldstein has looked into this issue very thoroughly over the years. I agree with her answer but I am going to throw out a couple of thoughts for your particular situation, which appears to be that the police were not involved, there was neither an arrest nor a criminal prosecution, and you have already made some payments toward the civil demand letter. It sounds to me as though your primary goal at this point is to get off of the national retailer's data base, if you are able to do so. That may be something that you can negotiate with the retailer, it may not be. I agree with Ms. Goldstein that it would be preferable to have an attorney handle the negotiations for you. I agree also that you are under no legal obligation to pay anything on the civil demand letter. Given that you may already be in the data base, however, and that you hope to get out of it, this might be something to discuss with your attorney since it might be a counter in negotiations.

As to your other questions, "Does this go on my permanent record? If I apply for a job will they find out about it? Does this effect my ability to apply for a credit card?" I admit that I am speculating here. But I think that (1) this incident will not turn up on any background check that looks for arrest or criminal records, because there has been neither; (2) a background check for employment, if limited to such records, will not turn this up; (3) an application for a credit card, especially one for a merchant's card, might indeed turn it up and (4) a background check for employment broad enough to cover the retailers' data base would turn it up, but not as an arrest or criminal charge. But I am, as I said, going beyond what I know into some hopefully educated guessing, and you cannot rely on my guess.

Judy A. Goldstein

Judy A. Goldstein


As always, attorney Sachs goes the extra mile to provide a well thought out response. The best thing this asker can do is get together with a consumer attorney to work on rehabilitating and damage that may already have been done.


It sounds like there was no arrest or prosecution so you will not have a criminal record as a result of this. Because you have made payments towards the civil demand, however, the store may have already listed you in a databse used by retail extablishments in making employment decisions. Your name will remain there for seven years. I know the demand letter did not inform you of this consequence. Accordingly, I believe the demand letter constitutes a fraudulent misrepresentation. You should consult an attroney who has experience in these matters before paying them another penny.

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