If you paid a casual visit to the NBC website on Feb. 21, you likely got a little something extra with your info or funny video—computer malware designed to steal Online Banking credentials (see here and here). Welcome to the new world of bank robbery. Thankfully, there are ways to protect yourself.

Sophisticated criminals no longer wear masks and pass menacing notes to tellers. No, today’s bank robber simply infects a website with malware, then waits for users to become infected and log in to Online Banking on their own. The hidden malware on the user’s infected computer quietly passes the Online Banking login information back to the criminal, or in more sophisticated attacks, allows the criminal to highjack your session while you are still logged in. Later you may notice that money was sent to an unknown person or business using person-to-person payments or even Bill Pay.

I suspect that most of you will have one of two responses:

“My computer can get infected just by visiting a website?”

or

“I have antivirus software on my computer so shouldn’t I be safe?”

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Considering a new car? Buying a car, especially if you’ve never done it before, can be extremely stressful, just because there’s so much to think about. That being said, it’s well worth putting in the extra time to plan ahead. In doing so, you’ll save time and money. Plus, you won’t end up with a lemon! These five tips will help you get started.

1. Leave room in your budget

Buying a new car? You’ll probably need at least a few thousand dollars in your savings account for the down payment, plus some room in your budget for regular auto loan payments of several hundred dollars. Even used cars are expensive, but in many ways, they’re a lot more economical than a new car. According to Kelley Blue Book, most cars lose 20 percent of their value in the first year, and 60 percent of their value within five years. When you consider the fact that most five-year-old cars don’t have many problems, a used car is a great deal.

2. Do your homework

Make sure you learn as much as you can about your car before you buy it. Websites like ConsumerReports.org and kbb.com (Kelley Blue Book’s official website) can give you unbiased information about the value of your vehicle, its reliability and even the driving experience. If you’re buying a used car, make sure to get the repair records and, ideally, a CARFAX report. It’s also important to test drive a vehicle before you consider purchasing it. This is the only way to know if the vehicle is comfortable for you and handles the way you like it. Continue reading