The House on Thursday approved legislation that would allow the Department of Housing and Urban Development to ban excessive fees on reverse mortgages.

The measure "will protect older Americans from white-collar muggers who rob them of thousands of dollars with the stroke of the pen," said HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo. Senior citizens have been charged up to $10,000 for information on reverse mortgages that HUD offers for free, Mr. Cuomo said.

Reverse mortgages are available through a federally guaranteed program that allows people 62 or older to receive payments based on the equity in their homes.

Similar legislation was approved by the Senate in April. Lawmakers are expected to hammer out their differences when they return in late January.

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