Apple co-founder says Apple Card algorithm gave wife lower credit limit

Daniel Fowler
November 12, 2019

Hansson reported that Apple finally raised his wife's credit limit, though various customer service representatives feigned ignorance of the algorithm's mysterious workings and told them to pay the $36 to check their credit scores, at which point they found that his wife's score was higher than his own.

His wife's experience with the Apple Card, the first credit card offering by Goldman Sachs, does not appear to be an isolated case, however.

By Saturday, regulators were involved with New York State Department of Financial Services superintendent Linda Lacewell tweeting that "financial services companies are responsible for ensuring the algorithms they use do not even unintentionally discriminate against protected groups".

They struck a nerve with NY state regulators, who announced Saturday that they would investigate the algorithm used by Apple Card to determine the creditworthiness of applicants.

The algorithm that determines the credit limit for users of Apple's new credit card, which launched in the USA in August, is facing an investigation because it appears to give men higher limits than women.

That barred an algorithm, like any other method of determining creditworthiness, from disparate treatment based on individual characteristics such as age, creed, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, among others, she added. "I got 10x the credit limit".

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It was possible for two family members to receive significantly different credit decisions, the bank said, but added, "We have not, and will not, make decisions based on factors like gender".

"Hard to get to a human for a correction though".

A spokesperson for Goldman Sachs said the company does not consider gender in determining credit limits.

A spokesman for Mastercard, which provides support for Apple Card's global payments network, referred questions to Goldman Sachs.

DFS regulates financial products and services offered in New York State. Past due accounts, a checking account closed by a bank for overdrafts, liens and medical debts can negatively affect applications, the page stated.

The claims surfaced on social media during the weekend after tech entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson tweeted that even though he and his spouse share assets and she has a better credit score, Apple Card offered him 20 times the credit limit. We will work to investigate what may have gone wrong, and if the algorithm used by Apple Card did indeed promote unlawful discrimination we will take appropriate action. Many other users voiced similar experiences - including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. A male reader with the same credit score meanwhile, emailed me to say he'd gotten 12.99% and a $US10,000 ($14,586) limit.

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