CUPERTINO (CNN) — Allegations of Apple Card gender bias have rankled one of Goldman Sachs’ biggest critics: Elizabeth Warren.
The Senator and Democratic candidate for president criticized Goldman Sachs’ response to claims that it discriminates against women who apply for the Apple Card by giving them far lower credit limits. Goldman Sachs is the card’s issuer.
The bank has said its algorithm does not discriminate against women, but it has also been telling complaining customers to contact support for another look at their credit limits.
“Great, so let’s just tell every woman in America: ‘You might have been discriminated against, [by] an unknown algorithm. It’s on you to telephone Goldman Sachs and tell them to straighten it out,'” Warren said in a Bloomberg interview Wednesday. “Sorry guys, that’s not how it works.”
In a statement provided to CNN Business on Thursday, Goldman Sachs said it would “welcome a discussion of this topic with policymakers and regulators.”
“Goldman Sachs has not and will never make decisions based on factors like gender, race, age, sexual orientation or any other legally prohibited factors when determining credit worthiness,” the company said.
The New York Department of Financial Services is looking into allegations of gender discrimination against Apple Card users.
The allegations blew up on Twitter last week after tech entrepreneur David Heinmeier Hansson wrote that Apple Card offered him twenty times the credit limit of his wife, although they have shared assets and she has a higher credit score. Many other users voiced similar experiences — including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Wozniak said his credit limit was 10 times that of his wife, despite the fact that they share all assets and accounts.
“Some say the blame is on Goldman Sachs, but the way Apple is attached, they should share responsibility,” Wozniak tweeted.
I'm a current Apple employee and founder of the company and the same thing happened to us (10x) despite not having any separate assets or accounts. Some say the blame is on Goldman Sachs but the way Apple is attached, they should share responsibility.
— Steve Wozniak (@stevewoz) November 10, 2019
Apple and Goldman Sachs’ credit card debacle comes at a time when the conversation around algorithms that discriminate has picked up.
“We’re all beginning to understand better that algorithms are only as good as the data that gets packed into them,” Warren told Bloomberg. “If a lot of discriminatory data gets packed in… if that’s how the world works, and the algorithm is doing nothing but sucking out information about how the world works, then the discrimination is perpetuated.”
Companies should take responsibility for designing an algorithm and if it isn’t executed well, “then they need to pull it down,” she said.
Goldman Sachs previously told CNN Business that individuals in a family could receive different credit decisions, based on factors like “personal credit scores, how much debt you have, and how that debt has been managed.”
“In all cases, we have not and will not make decisions based on factors like gender,” a Goldman Sachs spokesperson said.
Previously, members of a household had to apply separately for a card. Goldman Sachs said it would look into making joint accounts available.
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