Applying for a mortgage modification and being in a months-long trial period can devastate a home owner's credit score.

Under the government plan, troubled borrowers can have their mortgage payments reduced to 31 percent of their pre-tax income. They are first put in a trial modification for several months to test whether they can meet the requirements of the new mortgage.

Borrowers who were previously current on their mortgages will see their FICO scores fall about 100 points while they are in the trial period, according to the Treasury Department. Borrowers who were previously late or missed payments will see their scores fall more, the government says.

The longer a borrower is in the trial period, the greater the impact on their credit scores, Once the modification is approved, the borrowers' mortgage credit status will be listed as current and that should improve their scores, the Mortgage Bankers Association explains.

Even so, the delinquency remains on credit reports for up to seven years and can make getting credit for something else like a car difficult and expensive, borrowers report.

Source:, Tami Luhby (12/28/2009)