Hassans, Muhammeds, and other men with Arabic-sounding names are being turned away when they try to buy cars, homes, and even exercise equipment. Responding to post-9/11 requirements to screen customers against terrorist lists, companies are turning down buyers with even partial name matches rather than risk stiff fines and prison time.
A report released today documents at least a dozen cases of such mistaken identity. Tom Kubbany, whose middle name is Hassan, was denied a mortgage when a credit report claimed that "Hassan" was an alias for one of Saddam Hussein's children. Never mind that he's 30 years older than Hussein's offspring. Now, Kubbany says, "There's a dark cloud over us."