Is there a difference in just using a credit card number and actually stealing the credit card? Some people think they can avoid prosecution if they only use a stolen credit card number instead of physically using the credit card or debit card. Credit card laws have evolved such that theft now includes the unauthorized use of a credit or debit card or the unauthorized use of the account number associated with the card. It no longer matters if a person has the actual credit card or not. All that matters is that he/she possessed the card number and used it without authorization.