Polo Ralph Lauren has identified itself as the US retailer at the centre of a scare over stolen customer data. The company said that some of its customers' credit card information may have been "misappropriated."

Polo Ralph Lauren was informed in late 2004 that the credit card information of some of its customers may have been retained and stored on its point-of-sale software, it said in a statement. This information could have been compromised for credit card fraud, it said.

The retailer's confirmation came on the heels of news reports that HSBC Holdings sent letters to over 180,000 credit card customers warning them that their information may have been stolen from a US retailer's systems.

Polo Ralph Lauren said that it worked with credit card companies and law enforcement officials to determine the origin and extent of the compromise and that it has taken appropriate steps to purge the information and cure the problem.

"The company is confident that its credit card system is secure and that our customer's credit card information is properly protected," the retailer said.

While the incident is not one of the growing cases of identity theft, it may do little to shore up consumers' confidence. According to research by information security company Vontu, 95 percent of data security risk comes from faulty business processes and untrained users.