Daily Money - Issue #151: It's July, but I'm freezing

plus Han Solo + how to outrun a dinosaur
͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ 
Money
July 13, 2022 • Issue #151
Dollar Scholar
Hi y’all —

It’s hot AF and my window AC unit is doing absolutely nothing to help, so I’m gonna give you a gift today: my favorite frozen margarita recipe.

It originated from the Vitamix cookbook, but I can confirm it works just as well in a regular blender or even a Magic Bullet, if that’s all you’ve got. I’ve tweaked it to perfection. It makes four servings — or, like, two, if you’re as sweaty as I am right now.

You’ll need:
  • 1 cup tequila (at least)
  • ½ cup triple sec
  • 1 peeled orange
  • 1 peeled lime
  • 1 peeled lemon
  • 1 bag of frozen strawberries
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 6 cups ice cubes

The instructions:
  1. Peel your orange, lime and lemon. Try to remove most of the white stuff, but if you leave a little because you get tired it’s fine. Cut them into smaller pieces (quarters, wedges, whatever).
  2. Throw all the ingredients into your blender. Blend, gradually increasing the speed, until everything is well-mixed and sloshy. It’ll probably take about a minute.
  3. Open the lid and taste it with a spoon. Consider whether you should add a little more tequila. (You should.)
  4. Add a little more tequila. Blend again. Worry that your neighbors are getting annoyed with all your noisy blending. Get your cups ready with sugar or salt rims.
  5. Pour into cups. Kick back, relax and sip your perfectly fruity frozen margarita. If you still need to cool down, think about other frozen things: Olaf, Han Solo in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, credit…

…actually, let’s dive into that last one. What does it mean to freeze my credit? Should I?

Brittney Castro, a certified financial planner with Mint, tells me that freezing my credit is a security measure — “no random creditors can pull up your credit file and access it,” she says. “You would have to give them access.”

As longtime Scholars know, credit is kind of a big deal. Lenders check my credit history and scores whenever I apply for a new line of credit, a broad category that can include anything from a new credit card to a car loan to a mortgage. If my credit is frozen, lenders can’t see it… and therefore won’t move forward.

This is useful when it’s not actually me applying — aka in the event of identity theft. And that's startlingly common: The Federal Trade Commission received more than 363,000 reports of new-account credit card fraud in 2021.

“There are so many scams out there these days where people get access to your personal information and they try to take out credit in your name,” says Claire Mork, director of financial planning at Edelman Financial Engines. But if my credit were frozen, she adds, they wouldn’t be able to fraudulently get a loan using my data.

Colleen McCreary, consumer financial advocate and chief people officer at Credit Karma, writes in an email that a credit freeze won’t protect me in situations where criminals already gained access to my accounts (like if a hacker stole my bank login credentials).

However, freezing my credit is a smart move any time I’m worried about my identity being exposed. That can be as small as my wallet getting stolen or as big as my data being leaked in a major breach.

“We absolutely recommend clients do this if they don't anticipate taking a loan out any time soon,” McCreary says. “The same goes for others in your family, especially those who are more vulnerable to identity theft, like elderly parents, grandparents or kids.”
my credit score is low but it’s because I want to protect myself from identity theft. no one can take out a mortgage in my name if I can’t even take out a mortgage in my name.
Oh, and did I mention it’s free?

Freezing credit used to cost money. U.S. PIRG, a federation of consumer interest groups, reported in 2017 that only eight states gave residents the option to freeze their credit without paying.

But after the colossal Equifax breach that exposed 147 million people’s private data, Congress made it a legal requirement that Americans can freeze (and unfreeze) their credit free of charge. All I have to do is reach out to the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and ask.

That leads me to the biggest con of freezing my credit: It’s inconvenient.

Castro tells me that I have to individually request a freeze with each of the bureaus. Each will likely have me make an account, as well as give me a PIN I’ll have to keep track of. Crucially, I’ll also have to plan ahead for unfreezing my credit.

“Having a credit freeze can delay your applications for jobs, cell phone service or any other situation that requires a credit check since you have to lift the freeze each time, and it can take a few days for your credit freeze to thaw,” McCreary says.

One final note: It’s important to note that my credit scores can, and do, change while on ice. The freeze itself doesn’t hurt my scores, but if I start missing payments, the numbers will drop just the same.
THE BOTTOM LINE
(but please don't tell me you scrolled past all of my hard work)
Freezing my credit is a way to protect myself. Though it can be a hassle — I have to individually contact the three bureaus — it’s probably worth it in SOS situations to avoid identity theft.

“It’s such a pain to correct those issues,” Mork says. “The amount of work you have to do to fix that . . . why put yourself potentially through that when you can call three phone numbers and freeze it?”
Identity theft is not a joke
VIA GIPHY

RECEIPT OF THE WEEK
check out this wild celebrity purchase
Caan
 
VIA INSTAGRAM
Did you know the late actor James Caan was paid just $35,000 to appear in The Godfather? As his career progressed, he would go on to earn much higher wages — and become a “notorious check-grabber” who paid for pals’ dinners in Hollywood. “I’ve never saved any money,” he said in a 1976 interview. “I don’t think that’s what it’s for. I like to live well, and I like to see my family and friends live well.” Bada bing.

INTERNET GOLD
five things I'm loving online right now
1 Here’s your new favorite YouTube video: Chris Evans & Taika Waititi Argue Over The Internet’s Big Debates. Come for the confessions of stuff they’ve stolen from movie sets, stay for Evans’ enthusiasm for the “ingenuity” of stuffed crust. “Cheese inside the crust — who saw that coming?” he gushes. “That’s thinking outside the box.”
2 Pups in window.
3 I can’t stop thinking about this WIRED story detailing how to outrun a dinosaur. (It’s possible: Due to its size, a T. rex probably couldn’t run any faster than 12ish miles per hour.) “When the dinosaur begins chasing you, change course frequently but do not decelerate,” advises Cody Cassidy. “The predator’s high rate of closing speed will cause late reactions and result in inefficient routes.” Otherwise, he adds, “you may need the luck of a small cave to squeeze into or a thick bramble in which you can dive headlong.” Noted.
4 My new subreddit obsession is /r/HalfFlops, which refers to the situation that occurs when one of a dog’s ears springs up while the other stays folded over. My favorites include Pablo, Lenny and Lana.
5 Have you ever screwed up at work? Well, a guy in Japan recently got drunk with his colleagues, fell asleep on the street and — upon waking up — realized he’d lost a USB drive containing personal data for 460,000 people. (He later found it.) #relatable?
 

401(K)9 CONTRIBUTION
send me cute pictures of your pets, please
Ziggy
VIA Noel Dávila
This is Ziggy. Although Ziggy mostly relies on his teeth to protect himself from identity theft scammers, he also likes to fur-eeze his credit.

See you next week.
 
Julia
 
P.S. Is your credit frozen? What’s your best icy cocktail recipe? How do they get all that cheese inside the crust? Send cool thoughts to julia@money.com or @SuperJulia on Twitter. Brrr...
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