What works with the media- and what doesn’t - HECMWorld.com Skip to content

What works with the media- and what doesn’t


Rethinking our strategy when correcting media misstatements about the reverse mortgages


I’ll be honest. I used to get pretty hot under the collar each time I saw an inaccurate new story covering reverse mortgages. “How dare they”, I would say to myself. Why don’t they simply do their research first? 


While there are fewer grossly inaccurate reverse mortgage stories in the media it’s important to correct the record when possible. What I found is firing off a heated email to the columnist is counterproductive and does nothing to advance the shared interests of our industry.


What does work? The sandwich approach. 


Recently I came across a column with a few factual errors. Not massive misrepresentations, but significant errors nonetheless. So I took some time to form my thoughts before emailing the columnist.


What I did was applaud the accurate points made. When there was a point of agreement, I would concur but add additional context. For example, I wrote the following to her point of the risk of reverse mortgage scams. “I agree wholeheartedly. We’ve seen a handful of scams but unfortunately, the vast amount of fraud against an older homeowner originates from the adult children or other family members. Truly sad to see”. 


I’m not denying the fact there are a handful of reverse mortgage scams perpetrated by bad actors, but I’m pointing out where most of the elder abuse comes from.


After agreeing with several of her points on the ‘dangers of reverse mortgages’ I corrected one misleading point. The columnist stated reverse mortgages have an increased risk of foreclosure. Such statements can cause undue concern from potential borrowers. 


I wrote, “I often read that reverse mortgages have a higher risk of foreclosure. However, the requirement to keep current on property taxes and homeowners insurance comes with any standard residential loan. This is not unique to reverse mortgages. I believe it’s important to mention this so the public knows that non-payment of property charges can result in a technical default (foreclosure) for any mortgage holder.”


I’ve found this approach is more effectively received than a frontal assault from an irritated reverse mortgage professional. 


Complementing them on the points they got right, pointing out any inaccuracies, followed by a friendly valediction embodies the essence of the ‘sandwich method’. Even better, offer to be a resource should they have any reverse mortgage-related questions in the future. 


Yes, many media outlets could do better when it comes to misstatements or misleading claims about reverse mortgages. But, we also can improve how we communicate when such circumstances arise.




Editor in Chief: HECMWorld.com
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at HECMWorld.com, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
Readers wishing to submit stories or interview requests can reach our team at: info@hecmworld.com.

Leave a Comment


  1. Well written Shannon. I for on have a difficult time adhering to this advice – but a good suggestion it is. One point to note; where I’ve lived, the payment of real estate taxes typically come with home ownership, not just a mortgage loan.

  2. Well said.

    Some want to correct every perceived error. There are times to fight and times not to.
    Many times I get as angry with those in the industry who misrepresent reverse mortgages as I do with our detractors. This is especially true of those who should know better.

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