A law designed to protect homeowners against paying too much in mortgage insurance went into effect late last week, addressing an issue that has raised the ire of homeowners and has drawn fire from members of Congress.

Called the Homeowners' Protection Act of 1998, the new law, which went into effect on July 29, requires lenders to cancel private mortgage insurance when it is no longer needed - a threshold generally reached when a borrower's mortgage payments reach 22% of equity.

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