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Fed’s mortgage modification program: Keep your house, lose your credit

Americans who choose to take advantage of the government's Home Affordable Modification Program as it stands today are entering into a buyer-beware system that may deliver short-term relief but also long-term pain. Although the program, known as HAMP, works to reduce monthly mortgage payments by half or one-third of monthly income, the program can also ruin participants' credit for years to come, severely limiting their ability to borrow money and threatening for that reason to extend the housing crisis at the heart of the recession.