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Consumer Confidential: Credit risk, Zocor risk, home prices

March 19, 2010 | 10:24 am

Here's your flippantly Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--A lot of homeowners may be helped by the federal government's loan-modification program, intended to assist people having a hard time making mortgage payments. But there may be an unwelcome surprise for program participants: a big hit to your credit score. In some cases, your score can drop by as much as 100 points for having shown yourself to be a greater credit risk. This can affect interest rates for loans and possibly even job prospects. Something to keep in mind as you navigate these perilous economic waters.

--Heads up: The Food and Drug Administration says there's a risk of muscle and potentially lethal kidney damage from taking Zocor, a component of drugs to help lower cholesterol levels. All so-called statins are known to pose such risks. But the FDA says the potential for harm is much greater with Zocor, which contains higher doses. The agency isn't saying you should stop taking Zocor. It's just saying.

--Here's some happy news: California home prices have posted their fourth straight month of year-to-year increases, according to our friends at MDA DataQuick. The 11% increase in February brought the median home price statewide to $249,000 from $224,000 a year ago. This suggests, of course, that the housing market is stabilizing, which bodes well for the overall economy, which bodes well for jobs, which bodes well for all of us. Not out of the woods yet, but getting there.

-- David Lazarus