Goldman Sachs and Apple Card being investigated after viral tweet questions lower credit limit for women

Nov 10, 2019

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On Saturday, The Associated Press reported that a New York regulator is investigating Goldman Sachs “for possible sex discrimination” following a series of tweets that accused the Apple Card and Goldman Sachs — who have a partnership between the technology giant and the New York City-based bank — of curbing women’s credit limits.

According to the AP, the bank “denies wrongdoing” and Apple has not provided a comment.

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David Heinemeier Hansson, the website creator and author whose tweets first caught the attention of the New York Department of Financial Services, called the Apple Card a “sexist program” in a Nov. 7 tweet.

“My wife and I filed joint tax returns, live in a community-property state and have been married for a long time,” Hansson said in the tweet, adding later that a TransUnion report proved his wife’s credit score, which is higher than his own. “Yet Apple’s black box algorithm thinks I deserve 20 [times] the credit limit she does. No appeals work.”

“Even when she pays off her ridiculously low limit in full, the card won’t approve any spending until the next billing period. Women apparently aren’t good credit risks even whey they pay [the balance] in advance and in full.”

Appeals to Apple Card’s customer service representatives illuminated a lack of transparency. No one, Hansson said, was “authorized to discuss the credit assessment process.” They could not explain why, despite his wife’s identical if not superior application, she had been offered such a comparatively low credit limit.

Of course, this is the internet, and Hansson’s original tweet had garnered 13,100 likes and 5,500 retweets by Sunday morning. Many people responded with similarly disturbing accounts.

“My wife has a way better [credit] score than me … has a higher salary and was given a credit limit [a third] of mine,” said Twitter user Carmine Granucci.

And Steve Wozniak — yes, that one — said he and his wife experienced the same thing, despite sharing all assets and accounts.

Goldman Sachs spokesperson Andrew Williams told the AP that, “Our credit decisions are based on a customer’s creditworthiness and not on factors like gender, race, age, sexual orientation or any other basis prohibited by law.”

And, in a tweet to Hansson, Goldman Sachs Bank Support said, “We take these concerns very seriously. Please know that Goldman Sachs will never consider sex/gender or any other prohibited bases when making credit decisions.”

Still, Hansson’s accusations have created a total Twitter storm. Many people have been quick to point out that, even if Goldman Sachs and the Apple Card are equally responsible for any discrimination, biases or algorithm meltdowns may be at work, similar experiences have been noted with other major issuers.

Credit card issuers take many factors into consideration when evaluating creditworthiness, which affects not only whether or not you’re approved for a card but also determines your credit limit and annual percentage rate. Among them? Credit scores (which represent your total debt, how reliably you make on-time payments, age of credit history and other factors), total assets and income, among others.

Apple’s first credit card became available to U.S. customers in August and, though it’s hardly the top travel rewards credit card on the market, does offer card holders some interesting perks, including 3% cash back on purchases made directly with Uber and Apple, as well as 2% cash back on all Apple Pay purchases. There are also no foreign transaction fees, and Apple Card-carrying customers see total rewards updated on a daily basis.

Have you ever experienced something similar when applying for a credit card? Let us know in the comments below.

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