Video: Credit card offer mistake

updated 8/25/2005 1:44:20 PM ET 2005-08-25T17:44:20

The address was his, but the name on the credit-card offer took Sami Habbas by surprise: “Palestinian Bomber.”

“I thought it was a joke or something,” said Habbas, 54, a Palestinian American who served in the U.S. Army.

Habbas opened the letter, and the salutation read “Dear Palestinian Bomber.”

When he called the company, JPMorgan Chase & Co., provided his ZIP code and invitation number, two operators said to him: “Yes, Mr. Bomber, what can we do for you?”

“It’s very upsetting,” Habbas said. “I’m not what they are saying, a Palestinian bomber. That’s uncalled for. I have a name. My name is Sami Habbas.”

The information came from a list Chase purchased from a vendor, said Kelly J. Presta, Chase Card Services executive vice president. Chase Card Services, the Delaware-based credit card line of JPMorgan Chase & Co., said it doesn’t know how that name was attached to Habbas’ address but it is investigating.

“Although no Chase employee was involved in creating this information, we are embarrassed by this incident and regret that our automatic screening procedures did not catch this erroneous information,” Presta said.

Habbas, a grocer who has lived in the United States since age 3, doesn’t know why he would be singled out or how anyone would even know he has Palestinian heritage.

“It just hurt me to think I am discriminated against in my own back yard,” he said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C., has asked Chase for a formal apology.

“The most important thing is to make sure this doesn’t happen again, to any American, regardless of their race or religion,” said Sabiha Khan, spokeswoman for the Muslim civil liberties group in Southern California.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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