Goldman Sachs faces probe for alleged gender discrimination with Apple Card algorithm

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Sridhar Natarajan and Shahien Nasiripour for Bloomberg:

A Wall Street regulator is opening a probe into Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s credit card practices after a viral tweet from a tech entrepreneur alleged gender discrimination in the new Apple Card’s algorithms when determining credit limits.

A series of posts from David Heinemeier Hansson starting Thursday railed against the Apple Card for giving him 20 times the credit limit that his wife got. The tweets, many of which contain profanity, immediately gained traction online, even attracting comment from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Hansson didn’t disclose any specific income-related information for either of them but said they filed joint tax returns and that his wife has a better credit score than he does.

“The department will be conducting an investigation to determine whether New York law was violated and ensure all consumers are treated equally regardless of sex,” said a spokesman for Linda Lacewell, the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services. “Any algorithm, that intentionally or not results in discriminatory treatment of women or any other protected class of people violates New York law.”

“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,” said Goldman spokesman Andrew Williams.

MacDailyNews Note: If only her name were Marisa Robertson. 😉

Obviously, Goldman Sachs’ algorithm needs work.

David Heinemeier Hansson is the creator of Ruby on Rails, Founder & CTO at Basecamp, a New York Times best-selling author, and Le Mans 24 hour class-winning racing driver. Here are some of his tweets on the subject:

26 Comments

  1. Saw the opposite with my wife and I and perfectly in line with credit histories.
    Since joint cards are not possible with the Apple Card we are going to see differences in credit ratings being highlighted when couples make separate applications.

    1. If you and all the posters below had read the article, you would have seen that the man and his wife have identical financial resources and credit histories. There is no rational reason other than gender for him to get a substantially higher limit than her. That isn’t “ostensible discrimination.” It is actual discrimination that violates a boatload of state and federal laws going back at least to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

      Pointing that out and taking action about it isn’t “mob virtue signaling.” It is exercising one’s rights as an American. The couple may sound “petulant and entitled” to those who think that pushy women and their cuck husbands should shut up, but the fact is that they ARE entitled to be treated lawfully.

      1. If you could take the sexism blinders off for a moment then you’d note that HE is “the creator of Ruby on Rails, Founder & CTO at Basecamp, a New York Times best-selling author, and Le Mans 24 hour class-winning racing driver”. What does SHE do? Their gender is NOT their only distinguishing mark, no matter how loud you cry “sexism”. Maybe you should think before you give the fight against sexism a bad rep?

        1. I did note that, as well as the fact that they live in a community property state, which means that his earnings are liable for her debts. Which person earned a particular dollar is immaterial as far as getting the card bills paid is concerned. People with identical financial resources and credit histories should get identical credit limits.

          1. Nope. Because if he dies she has no way to pay back the debt since he earns the income stream and if she dies he keeps on paying. I’ll see you at the next Twitter outrage.

          2. My wife and I have different credit rating. Close but not the same. She got 20K credit with the card and I got 10K.
            We live in CA and have community property. BUT she has lived in the States all her lie and has a much longer credit history.
            Even if all your accounts are joint, your salaries are different and your history will be different.
            The only reason they are seeing this effect is that you have to apply for the card separately. There are no joint card holders with the AppleCard. Woz’s wife is by no means a billionaire and it is not surprising that the credit limits are way different.

            My credit limit with the card will increase as I use it and pay off on time. This is normal with credit cards. Someone needs to take a chill pill. Or maybe this will become CardGate!

          3. Did the male of the family apply first? If so, perhaps the lion’s share of the family credit was assigned already when the female of the family applied? You don’t get double the credit with the same family assets just because you are two people. However, if the female applied first with the same assets and then the male received a larger limit afterwards, that would indicate a problem.

    1. Most of the articles discussing this situation point out that she has the higher credit rating. Your assumption that she doesn’t illustrates the problem of unconscious bias that is the core of this story.

  2. DHH sounds like such a joy to be around. If there’s a problem it should be looked into and fixed. His anger and frustration with trying to appeal the credit limit may even be valid. But the moment you start talking like this, you are a total douche, “If we relegate all responsibility for discrimination to the individuals discriminated against, nothing is going to change! Individual action against structural problems is INSUFFICIENT.”

    Then he blames Apple instead of Goldman Sachs. Here comes another hashtag movement. Reason number 147 why I’m not on Twitter.

    Lastly, for someone who is obviously rich and successful, why would DHH want an Apple Card? There are far better cards out there for individuals with high credit ratings – cards with much lower interest rates and much better rewards.

  3. I sense a problem with data selection bias in the article’s presentation. I also sense the State of New York would like to feel good by sticking Apple and/or Goldman Sachs with a large bill for ostensible discrimination.

  4. Wow. Twitter inciting another mob. Shocking. Shocking I tell you. That’s all twitter is. 3 nobodies from twitter said X or upset at Y. Lazy journalist confirms their own dumb bias by selecting any 3 idiots from twitter for some click bait. Lazy jaundiced politicians pick from their clickbiat to suit their political bias and power grabby goals.

    And there we have it ladies and gents, another stupid new cycle based on irrationality and fervent frothy twitter mob virtue signaling stupidity.

  5. My 13 year old daughter was denied any credit at all. I have been her father for al long time and we lived in the same residences for a long time too. Somehow Apple Card thinks I Deserve 6500x’s the credit as my daughter. Not only are they sexist but hey also discriminate based on age. Lets get this snowball going!
    Seriously, though, I’m gonna bet that David Heinemeier Hansson is seriously pussy-whipped and his wife said “Now you get on Twitter and complain about this, I can’t deal withe fact that your credit history gave you more credit than me. It just has to be because I’m a woman.”
    Now, if she was claiming race discrimination, BOOM! here’s your $100,000 limit. We apologize for our racist algorithms.
    Sincerely,
    Goldman Sachs

  6. I imagine the “algorithm” is based on individual income. Since you have to apply separately this would come into play, instead of joint income. If you and your wife have the same income, you might have a legitimate beef. If your income is 10X your wife’s, then this seems to be appropriate from the bank’s perspective. Which is it? It seems the real problem is the inability to get a joint card with your spouse. Then again, some people don’t want to do that either.

    1. They live in a community property state, so her individual income is exactly the same as his. She owns half his income and he owns half her debts. If they have been married since they began working, their assets are exactly equal. So, again, what is the gender-neutral excuse for him getting a 20x higher credit limit?

        1. I guess “Zombie” is appropriate. While it is true that his income stream won’t be available for her card if he dies, the same is true of HIS card, unless he is a zombie, too. On your theory, only the undead should be eligible for credit. Obviously, the limit is subject to change if there is a death or divorce, but creditworthiness should be based on present financial circumstances, not on contingencies that might happen in the future.

          1. I suppose we could go back to the days when husbands had complete legal control of their wives’ income and estates, even in community-property states. It was even worse in common-law states, where “husband and wife are one person in the contemplation of the law, and that person is the husband.” As the US Supreme Court noted in 1966, that doctrine still applied in as many as eleven states. In three states, married women only gained the right to sign a contract or sell property titled in their name in the 1890s.

            It sounds like some of you are advocating for a return to the days when husbands could control their wives, and the men running financial institutions were anxious to help them curb any unseemly independence.

            1. Oh, and by the way, other stories about this situation state that her credit scores were actually higher than his, yet he was initially approved for 20x her limit. Again, please show some valid basis for that. The notion that she is uncreditworthy because he might die penniless isn’t a valid basis, since that possibility applies equally to his creditworthiness.

          2. This isn’t right. If the big earner is deceased, Goldman will not continue to offer a line of credit to him. But it will continue to offer a line of credit to his wife.

  7. We didn’t have that problem we both got the same credit line. We are also both not working.. Had no problem with the credit card. I thought I wouldn’t get credit cause I have work for several years.. My husband just retired still had no problem get credit..

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