Our investigative team’s mission is to uncover and expose individuals, businesses and industries that prey on consumers.

It’s your money. We’re here to help protect it.

Veteran journalists based in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., are focusing on individuals, businesses and in some cases entire industries that rely on sleight of hand, willful deception and lies to prey on consumers, often destroying family finances.

We invite tips from consumers, businesses, employees, government workers and anyone else seeing practices — local or national — warranting investigation.


Have a tip? Reach out to our team. We will honor confidentiality requests.


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Our work

NerdWallet Wins National Press Club Award

NerdWallet reporter Rich Read has won the National Press Club’s 2018 Consumer Journalism award for an investigation into the selling of produce falsely labeled organic.

U.S. shoppers are cheated at the cash register and never even know it. Food fraudulently certified as organic — and priced up accordingly — can make its way to grocers’ shelves, thanks to a broken enforcement process at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Read the full report.

Rent-A-Center, the nation’s largest rent-to-own company, charges grossly inflated prices, badgers customers for the smallest lapse and wrongly wrecks their credit, government officials and consumer complaints say. Read the full report.

Borrowers, beware of student loan scams. This Watch List names companies that charge for fraudulent or questionable debt relief services. Read the full report.

Student loan borrowers who say they were duped by Equitable Acceptance Corp. now have a way to fight back. Read the story.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has saved Americans billions of dollars, but many businesses and congressional conservatives want to eliminate it. Read the story.

Meet the investigative team

Drex Heikes, editor

Drex came to NerdWallet after 21 years at the Los Angeles Times, where he supervised foreign affairs coverage in Washington, ran the Sunday magazine and directed coverage in New York after 9/11. He left the Times in 2005 to help remake the Las Vegas Sun newspaper. In 2009, he won the Scripps Howard Public Service Reporting award and shared the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for stories and editorials about safety flaws that led to 12 construction deaths. Drex returned to the Times in 2011.

Contact: dheikes@nerdwallet.com or 310-948-6910.

Richard Read, reporter

Rich is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and former Asia-based foreign correspondent. He has reported in 60 countries, covering economic issues, natural disasters, war and repression. Rich won the 1999 Pulitzer for Explanatory Reporting for explaining Asia’s financial crisis by following french fries from a Northwestern U.S. farm to Singapore. He and three other reporters at The Oregonian newspaper won the 2001 Pulitzer for Public Service for exposing abuses by U.S. immigration officials. At NerdWallet, he has investigated student loan scams and organic food fraud.

Contact: rread@nerdwallet.com or 503-913-4189.

Alex Richards, reporter

Alex joined NerdWallet from Investigative Reporters and Editors, where as training director he taught journalists around the world about best practices in investigative and data reporting. Alex also worked at the Chicago Tribune, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Las Vegas Sun, where he was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2011 and won the Goldsmith and Scripps Howard investigative reporting awards for co-authored work about shoddy medical care in Nevada. Alex also has shared IRE’s Freedom of Information medal.

Contact: arichards@nerdwallet.com or 702-606-4519.

Brad Wolverton, reporter

Brad worked at The Chronicle of Higher Eduction in Washington before coming to NerdWallet. He specialized in investigating business excesses and academic flaws in collegiate athletics. Brad is a four-time winner of Education Writers Association national awards, including for investigative reporting and data reporting. His examination of Christian influences in the Clemson University football program was listed in the 2014 volume of “The Best American Sports Writing.”

Contact: bwolverton@nerdwallet.com or 202-557-8691.

Karlene Goller, outside counsel

Karlene worked for more than 20 years as First Amendment counsel for the Los Angeles Times, where she never lost a libel, privacy or copyright case. She now advises online, print and broadcast newsrooms including: Kaiser Health News, The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune and Southern California Public Radio. The recipient of numerous freedom of information awards, Karlene is the only non-journalist in Los Angeles Times history to win a Top of the Times Award for distinguished journalism. She teaches media law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law.