Credit Card ID Theft Affects 180,000

180,000 individuals that used their MasterCard credit cards at Polo Ralph Lauren stores are being informed that they may have had their personal information compromised, British bank HSBC revealed on Wednesday. In particular, the theft seems to be limited to those carrying GM-branded MasterCards.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the theft occurred last month. Other banks may have been affected by the security breach, however none have stepped forward publicly. Laws as they are currently written do not make it mandatory for banks to immediately alert customers to fraud.

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A letter sent to HSBC cardholders said, "A national retailer's computer system has had a security breach and your credit card account number may be among those that were compromised."

The latest admission of data loss is sure to turn heads in Washington. Several lawmakers have indicated that they plan to take action to ensure that such wide-scale identity theft cases do not occur in the future. Lawmakers such as California Senator Diane Feinstein have proposed to enact a federal law similar to a two-year-old California law on identity theft.

The California law requires that companies inform their clients as soon as information is compromised. However, Feinstein would also like to make the law applicable federally to encrypted and paper records.

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