The federal $75 million Making Home Affordable program is supposed to keep some of the 5 million Americans on the verge of foreclosure from losing their homes.

That's if the loans they want to refinance are backed by the federal mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And if they don't have a second mortgage or private mortgage insurance that can hinder refinancing. And if the cost of refinancing is worth the lower interest rates. And if lenders have been able to update their computer systems to work with the program.

And, it turns out, if homeowners don't mind watching their credit scores drop by as much as 100 points.

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