Public Interest Reporting

NerdWallet launched a public interest reporting team in December 2016 to uncover and expose businesses and practices harmful to financial consumers.

Veteran journalists based in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington 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.

Our team also is reporting on the impact of federal and state regulations intended to protect consumers from nefarious actors and practices. Additionally, we are watching for government overreach that harms consumers by imposing unnecessary burdens on the finance industry.

Our guiding principle is simple: Do what is best for consumers.

We invite tips from consumers, businesses, employees, government workers and anyone else seeing practices — local or national — warranting investigation. A Wells Fargo branch manager’s tip to a reporter led to exposure of the bank’s unauthorized accounts scheme, leading to refunds and fines. Tips from government workers can lead to reporting on regulatory excess that does more harm than good for consumers.

You can reach our team directly via contact information in the bios below. We will honor confidentiality requests. If you wish, you can reach us via snail mail, which is nearly impossible to trace. Send to: NerdWallet, P.O. Box A3764, Chicago, IL, 60690-3764.

Latest NerdWallet stories:

June 14, 2017 | Feds Point Fingers as ‘Debt Relief’ Companies Prey on Student Loan Borrowers: Fraudulent “debt relief” companies are preying on the most vulnerable of the 44 million people with student loans, as federal officials dispute who’s to blame and what to do, a NerdWallet investigation has found.

April 18, 2017 | Stone Age to Drone Age: Debt Collectors Go High-Tech: From avatars to analytics, inventive new tactics surprise debtors and rile consumer advocates. But company managers say the innovations benefit consumers.

April 6, 2017 | Collection Agencies Get Another Shot at Your Back Taxes: The IRS hires collection agencies to pursue back taxes, using methods forbidden to the government. Critics say the poor will be victims of the new pressure.

March 14, 2017 | Your Wallet Will Suffer If This Agency Is Gutted: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has saved Americans billions of dollars, but many businesses and congressional conservatives want to eliminate it.

Meet our journalists:

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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 with three Sun journalists 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.

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Rich Read, reporter

Rich is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who became the first foreign correspondent for a Pacific Northwest newspaper when he opened The Oregonian’s Tokyo bureau in 1989. He has reported in 60 countries, covering economic issues, natural disasters, war and repression. Rich won the 1999 Pulitzer for Explanatory Reporting for stories that explained Asia’s financial crisis by following french fries from a Northwest farm to Asia. He and three other reporters won the 2001 Pulitzer for Public Service for investigating abuses by U.S. immigration officials.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.