At least 180,000 consumers who used their General Motors MasterCard to make purchases from Polo Ralph Lauren may be at risk of identity theft. British financial giant HSBC is notifying the cardholders that criminals may have obtained access to their credit-card information.

Details of the incident are sketchy, but HSBC has advised the consumers that they should replace their credit card to minimize the risk.

The theft is thought to have taken place more than a month ago and may have involved other credit-card issuers as well. Only California requires financial and database firms to notify consumers when their data is stolen, although Congress is holding hearings on the issue this week.

Visa USA Inc. said in a statement that it was aware of the incident and said it is working to "monitor and prevent card-related theft."

HSBC said it was sending letters to 180,000 holders of cards branded by MasterCard and GM. The British bank manages more than six million GM-MasterCard branded cards in circulation.