Apple Card issuer investigated after viral tweet accuses it of 'sexist' practices

The algorithm allegedly is offering men a higher credit limit than women.

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Apple Card issuer Goldman Sachs is being investigated over allegations its algorithm is offering higher credit limits to men than women.

James Martin/CNET

An investigation into Goldman Sachs Group's credit card practices has begun after a tech entrepreneur's tweet alleged gender discrimination in determining credit limits for Apple's new credit card.

In a series of tweets Thursday, David Heinemeier Hansson criticized the Apple Card for giving him a credit limit 20 times higher than that of his wife, Bloomberg reported Saturday. The tweets immediately went viral, even attracting comment from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak , who said he had a similar experience.

"The same thing happened to us," Wozniak tweeted. "I got 10x the credit limit."

New York's Department of Financial Services confirmed that an investigation is being conducted.

"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," Linda Lacewell, the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, told Bloomberg. "Any algorithm, that intentionally or not results in discriminatory treatment of women or any other protected class of people violates New York law."

Goldman Sachs denied that gender factored into any decisions made about credit limits, saying that accounts are based on the individual and that person's specific credit history.

"As with any other individual credit card, your application is evaluated independently. We look at an individual's income and an individual's creditworthiness, which includes factors like personal credit scores, how much debt you have, and how that debt has been managed," Goldman Sachs said in a statement Sunday evening. "Based on these factors, it is possible for two family members to receive significantly different credit decisions."

Launched in August, the Apple Card is backed by Mastercard and Goldman Sachs and lets consumers pay for goods and services online and in stores. Apple Card is different from Apple Pay but builds on that feature -- it's a mobile payment system based on your existing credit card that Apple has had in place since 2014.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Originally published Nov. 10, 8:45 a.m. PT.
Update, 5:25 p.m.: Adds Goldman Sachs' comment.

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