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Probe into Apple Card finds no evidence of gender discrimination

Probe into Apple Card finds no evidence of gender discrimination

The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has found no evidence to support allegations that Goldman Sachs unfairly discriminated against Apple Card credit applicants.

The investigation by the regulator was kicked off following customer complaints that the algorithm used to determine the credit worthiness of Apple Card applicants was gender biased.

The NYDFS probe included a review of several thousand pages of records and written responses from Goldman Sachs and Apple, interviews of witnesses and Apple Card applicants, and analysis of underwriting data for approximately 400,000 New York State applicants for the Apple Card

“While we found no fair lending violations, our inquiry stands as a reminder of disparities in access to credit that continue nearly 50 years after the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act,” states Superintendent of Financial Services Linda Lacewell. “The report also notes that the use of credit scoring in its current form and laws and regulations barring discrimination in lending are in need of strengthening and modernisation to improve access to credit."

Consumers interviewed for the investigation expresed the belief that they should have received the same Apple Card offers as their spouses because they shared bank accounts and other assets. One of the complainants took to Twitter to call out "sexist" behaviour by Apple card for giving him a credit limit 20 times higher than his wife's.

Says Lacewwell: "Consumer frustration with the Apple Card policy of not permitting an account holder to add an authorised user drew attention to the following: a person who relies on a spouse's access to credit, and only accesses those accounts as an authorised user, may incorrectly believe they have the same credit profile as the spouse. This is one part of a broader discussion we must have about equal credit access.”

In terms of gender, the Department found that Apple Card applications from women and men with similar credit characteristics generally had similar outcomes.

"For all consumers who reported concerns about their Apple Card credit application outcomes to the Department, evidence showed that those decisions were explainable, lawful, and consistent with the Bank’s credit policy," states the regulatory body. "However, the Department concluded, deficiencies in customer service and a perceived lack of transparency undermined consumer trust in fair credit decisions."

In the interim, Goldman Sachs and Apple have since taken steps to improve transparency, implemented a programme to assist denied applicants in improving their credit with the goal of obtaining Apple Card approval, and modified a policy that previously required approved applicants to wait six months before appealing credit terms.

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