Lifestyle Trends & Tips

Cold Weather Travel & Safety Tips

FC_BlogImageCold Weather Travel & Safety Tips

The holiday season brings a host of emotions and experiences often involving friends and family. One caveat of creating these holiday memories with friends and family can be harsh traveling conditions. With parts of Connecticut already receiving substantial amounts of snow, it seems we will experience yet another New England winter. Whether you have winter travel plans to see friends, family or to go to work, here are some cold weather travel and safety tips:

  • Start off with the basics by making sure your vehicle is safe before traveling – this means checking your tire pressure and tread as well as making sure all headlights, directional lights, and emergency lights are working before traveling in wintry conditions.
  • When traveling do your best to stay on roads that are well plowed and flat – stick to main roads and highways and avoid hills and slopes. Give yourself extra time to travel on these roads even if they may be a little heavier with traffic.
  • Keep an extra layer of clothing, a couple of blankets and bottled water in your car for worst case scenarios. If you become stranded you will benefit from the ability to stay warm and hydrated.
  • Let friends or family know where you’re headed! This may seem simple but letting someone know when you’re traveling is a simple way to stay safe.
  • In the scenario you become stranded in your car – remember to use your hazard lights; if you’re running your engine to stay warm, keep a window slightly open to avoid carbon monoxide build-up; remove snow build-up around the vehicles exhaust pipe; and if you end up spending a night in your car, keep an interior overhead light on so you can be visible to overnight rescue crews.

Enjoy your holiday season with friends and family, and be safe when traveling. To read the full article visit, The Weather Channel.

In Our Community

Fairfield University & First County Bank, National Finalists

Fairfield_ShieldStudents from Fairfield University wanted to enter the Conference of State Bank Supervisor’s (CSBS) Community Bank Case Study Competition. So, in early 2016, they approached First County Bank to participate as their primary case study for the competition. Their request was simple, to work with First County Bank as their major corporate entry and to tell the Bank’s story from a performance and managerial perspective. The Bank was more than willing to help these students as were some First County Bank customers. We are proud to announce that these Fairfield University students were not only named as a finalist in this national collegiate competition, but they excelled in portraying the culture of the Bank and our community focus.

To view the video, click here.

First County Bank Foundation

First County Bank Foundation Grants $21,000 to New Canaan Nonprofits

Sara Tucker, Nicole Konaman, Stacy Gendels and Caroleigh Evarts of New Canaan Mounted Troop were presented with a $2,500 grant from First County Bank Foundation by David VanBuskirk, AVP, Business Banking at First County Bank. New Canaan Mounted Troop provides equestrian therapeutic programs for youth with special needs.

Sara Tucker, Nicole Konaman, Stacy Gendels and Caroleigh Evarts of New Canaan Mounted Troop were presented with a $2,500 grant from First County Bank Foundation by David VanBuskirk, assistant vice president, business banking at First County Bank. New Canaan Mounted Troop provides equestrian therapeutic programs for youth with special needs.

We are pleased to announce that the First County Bank Foundation has recently awarded six New Canaan-based nonprofit groups a total of $21,000 in grants to support these organizations with their mission to provide needed services in local communities. First County Bank Foundation is celebrating its 15th anniversary and has awarded individual grants worth over $7.5 million since its inception in 2001.

“First County Bank Foundation is celebrating its 15th Anniversary of supporting community-based charitable organizations which provide essential services to improve the lives of people in the local communities they serve,” said Reyno A. Giallongo, Jr., president of First County Bank Foundation. “It’s exciting to be part of an organization which works together with these charities to ensure basic needs are met.”

First County Bank Foundation granted Waveny Life Care Network $5,000 for their elder care programs and $5,000 to Getabout, for their senior rides program. In addition, First County Bank Foundation granted $2,500 to The Community Fund of New Canaan for their local programs, $2,500 to New Canaan Mounted Troop, Inc., for their therapeutic riding and horsemanship program for people with special needs, $3,500 to Silvermine Arts Center for their Art Partners outreach program to under-resourced schools and $2,500 to Arts for Healing for music and creative arts therapy programs for people with special needs.

First County 165

Throwback Thursday: Bank Technology in 1912 – Catches Fraud

Even back in 1891, when we were the Stamford Savings Bank, we were using “high tech” to prevent financial fraud. At that time, the Secretary/Treasurer, J. Howard Bogardus recommended Stamford Savings Bank purchase “card ledgers,” a new technology to track depositor transactions. This purchase paid dividends in 1912 when this technology caught fraudulent activity.

The investigator found the perpetrator used his “ill-gotten gains” to bet on the ponies (horse racing). The “Betting Commissioners” (people who took bets or “bookies”) were said to be “blue over the prospect of losing one of their best customers.” In the New York Times article from April 11, 1912, the subhead stated “His Aged Mother Not Told” – we still wonder if she ever found out what her son was up to.

While new threats including cybercrime and identity theft are discovered regularly, our commitment for ensuring the safety and security of our customers’ finances continues to remain our top priority. For detailed information on how to protect yourself from cybercrime, identify theft and other financial fraud, please go to “Customer Resources” on the First County Bank home page and visit Fraud Prevention Tools or go to firstcountybank.com/efraud-protection. The eFraud Prevention area includes information on how to prevent fraud as well as what to do if you are a victim. Also included are interactive games and educational tools to help you become more aware of how you can prevent fraud.

2016 is a big year for First County Bank as we celebrate not only our 165th anniversary, but also the 15th anniversary of the First County Bank Foundation. To mark these major milestones we will be digging into the archives, sharing some notable moments from our history on our blog and social media channels every other Thursday. You can follow along, or share your own memories of First County Bank history, by leaving a comment or posting a memory using #FirstCounty165.

First County Bank Foundation

First County Bank Foundation Grants $45,500 to Greenwich Nonprofits

We are pleased to announce that the First County Bank Foundation has recently awarded 11 Greenwich-based nonprofit groups a total of $45,500 in grants to support these organizations with their mission to provide needed services in local communities. First County Bank Foundation is celebrating its 15th anniversary and has awarded individual grants worth over $7.5 million since its inception in 2001.

“First County Bank Foundation is celebrating its 15th Anniversary of supporting community-based charitable organizations which provide essential services to improve the lives of people in the local communities they serve,” said Reyno A. Giallongo, Jr., president of First County Bank Foundation. “It’s exciting to be part of an organization which works together with these charities to ensure basic needs are met.”

The following 11 Greenwich-based nonprofit organizations received First County Bank Foundation grants in 2015:

Kids in Crisis $10,000 For children’s shelter program
River House Adult Day Center $2,500 For senior daycare programs
Hill House $6,500 For elderly low-moderate income housing
Greenwich Alliance for Education $5,000 Going Places with Books program
Jewish Family Services of Greenwich $4,000 Super-marketing for seniors
Neighbor to Neighbor $2,500 Supplemental food program
United Way of Greenwich, CT $2,500 For various programs
YMCA of Greenwich $2,500 Nutritious snack program to enhance development and education for children’s programs
YWCA Greenwich $2,500 Domestic abuse services and emergency shelter program
Abilis, Inc. $5,000 Assistance to adults and children with developmental disabilities and their families
Meals on Wheels $2,500 To support meals to the elderly and home-bound
 Jagjiwan Singh, Assistant Vice President Business Banking of First County Bank presents a $10,000 grant from First County Bank Foundation to Alon Marom, director of development, Corporate & Community Giving, for Kids in Crisis. This grant helps fund Safe Haven for Kids shelter program.

Jagjiwan Singh, assistant vice president business banking of First County Bank presents a $10,000 grant from First County Bank Foundation to Alon Marom, director of development, corporate & community giving, for Kids in Crisis. This grant helps fund Safe Haven for Kids shelter program.

First County Bank Foundation

First County Bank Foundation Grants $17,500 to Darien Nonprofits

First County Bank Foundation supports Person-to-Person with a $7,000 donation in their efforts to provide emergency assistance to community members in need. Pictured (left to right): Marianne Delaney, director of development, Person-to-Person, Ceci Maher, executive director, Person-to-Person, Aitza Cabrera, branch manager, First County Bank and John "Jack" Dowling, VP, commercial banker, First County Bank.

First County Bank Foundation supports Person-to-Person with a $7,000 donation in their efforts to provide emergency assistance to community members in need. Pictured (left to right): Marianne Delaney, director of development, Person-to-Person; Ceci Maher, executive director, Person-to-Person; Aitza Cabrera, branch manager, First County Bank; and John “Jack” Dowling, Vice President, commercial banker, First County Bank.

We are pleased to announce that the First County Bank Foundation has recently awarded four Darien-based nonprofit groups a total of $17,500 in grants to support these organizations with their mission to provide needed services in local communities. First County Bank Foundation is celebrating its 15th anniversary and has awarded individual grants worth over $7.5 million since its inception in 2001.

“First County Bank Foundation is celebrating its 15th Anniversary of supporting community-based charitable organizations which provide essential services to improve the lives of people in the local communities they serve,” said Reyno A. Giallongo, Jr., president of First County Bank Foundation. “It’s exciting to be part of an organization which works together with these charities to ensure basic needs are met.”

First County Bank Foundation granted The Community Fund of Darien $2,500 for local programs, At Home in Darien $2,500 to increase transportation services for seniors, Person to Person $7,500 for their Emergency Assistance Program to provide a safety net and emergency financial assistance to low income individuals and The Tiny Miracles Foundation $5,000 for financial aid to parents of premature babies.
Trends & Tips

Cyber Monday Security Tips

SoftwareUpdateThere are many things to look forward to when it comes to Thanksgiving Weekend: time spent with family and friends, great food, and great deals. Thanksgiving Weekend marks the start of the official holiday shopping season, kicked off with Black Friday and followed by Cyber Monday. While Cyber Monday boasts the ability of finding great deals from the comfort of your own home, there are some security tips and tricks you should be aware of before shopping for that great deal.

In a CBS News article, Brian Krebs, Cybersecurity Expert and author of “Spam Nation,” Marc Boroditsky, President of the cybersecurity start-up “Authy,” and Steve Bellovin, Computer Science Professor and Cybersecurity Expert at Columbia University, collaborated to provide CBS with “5 Cyber Monday tips for hacker proof shopping.”

  1. Get email savvy – Be aware of the emails coming in and going out of your inbox. Be sure to verify that the email is coming from a trusted source before clicking or applying for any item.
  2. Use a credit card rather than a debit card – Fraudulent charges are no fun whether it’s a charge to your credit card or debit card. Know that complications may be more severe for a debit card because it is usually linked directly to your checking account.
  3. Practice “good password hygiene” – Be mindful to create new passwords rather than simply reusing passwords. “Password reuse is a much worse danger than weak passwords,” stated Bellovin.
  4. Beware of phantom sites – If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is! Comparison-shopping is great for finding the best deals, but stick to sites you are familiar with.
  5. Keep your browser up to date – Not only is keeping your browser up to date effective for shopping purposes, but the older your browser becomes the weaker it is when defending against viruses and malware.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Weekend! Good luck to all of those bracing for Black Friday sales, and for those utilizing Cyber Monday – remember these tips!

First County Bank Foundation

Our Foundation Celebrates 15 Years!

R Giallongo
What started with a nugget of an idea has profoundly changed our Bank. In 2001, our Board of Directors created the First County Bank Foundation – which this past week celebrated 15 years of giving back to the community! And some 15 years later, our Foundation continues to grow and build on its success – recently achieving an important milestone – that is, distributing more than $7.5Million in charitable donations to hundreds of local nonprofits since its inception.

So, what do these dollars and numbers really mean? To name a few, we’ve:

  • Funded numerous first time home-buyer programs;
  • Sustained a healthy snack program at the Greenwich YMCA;
  • Provided seed capital for a Small Business Education Center and a Maker’s Space Program at the Ferguson Library in Stamford;
  • Supported infrastructure upgrades at our local shelters;
  • Provided tuition enabling thousands of children to attend summer camps.

To commemorate this milestone, we created the FirstClass Grant Program for K-6 public school teachers looking to fund imaginative programs and projects in their classrooms. This new grant program went from concept to accepting applications in 4 months and should sustain itself for many, many years to come.

One of our primary focuses has been education and the importance of teaching the principles of Financial Literacy to young people. Our newly opened student-run branch at AITE high school in Stamford is off to a great start, providing in-class and one-on-one training to the students while teaching them job skills in banking and finance.

This commitment to community has a prominent place in the Core Values of the Bank and impacts our employees on a daily basis. Our giving and relationships with our nonprofit partners have profoundly changed the Bank and how we do business. We started the Foundation 15 years ago as a nice thing to do, but since then it’s become the cornerstone of everything we do.

First County 165

Thursday Throwback – How we Revolutionized data processing in 1966

New ATM for Ferguson Library

Photo caption: Robert Granata, president and COO of First County Bank, and Alice Knapp, interim president of The Ferguson Library, are in the library’s lobby with the new First County Bank ATM.

On April 1, 1966, Stamford Savings Bank “flipped the switch” on new data processing services, becoming the first bank in Stamford processing and storing data online. The results were no joke–the time it took to process a deposit dropped to just three seconds, while transaction accuracy increased.

Technology has continued to evolve at an incredible rate, and First County Bank has kept pace. Today our customers have the ability to deposit checks, transfer money, set automatic payments and even pay with your mobile device using Apple Pay®.

2016 is a big year for First County Bank as we celebrate not only our 165th anniversary, but also the 15th anniversary of the First County Bank Foundation. To mark these major milestones we will be digging into the archives, sharing some notable moments from our history on our blog and social media channels every other Thursday. You can follow along, or share your own memories of First County Bank history, by leaving a comment or posting a memory using #FirstCounty165.

First County Bank Foundation

First County Bank Foundation Grants $108,000 to Norwalk Nonprofits

First County Bank Foundation presents the George Washington Carver Foundation of Norwalk with a $5,000 grant for the Youth Development Program. Pictured are Steve Ferguson, AVP, business development officer, First County Bank and Wendy A. Macedo, AVP, branch manager, First County Bank, join Novelette Peterkin, executive director, Carver Center, and Joe Gallagher, director of philanthropy, Carver Center, with Carver Center children.

First County Bank Foundation presents the George Washington Carver Foundation of Norwalk with a $5,000 grant for the Youth Development Program. Pictured are Steve Ferguson, Assistant Vice President, business development officer, First County Bank and Wendy A. Macedo, Assistant Vice President, branch manager, First County Bank, join Novelette Peterkin, executive director, Carver Center, and Joe Gallagher, director of philanthropy, Carver Center, with Carver Center children.

We are pleased to announce that the First County Bank Foundation has recently awarded 20 Norwalk-based nonprofit groups a total of $108,000 in grants to support these organizations with their mission to provide needed services in local communities. First County Bank Foundation is celebrating its 15th anniversary and has awarded individual grants worth over $7.5 million since its inception in 2001.

“First County Bank Foundation is celebrating its 15th Anniversary of supporting community-based charitable organizations which provide essential services to improve the lives of people in the local communities they serve,” said Reyno A. Giallongo, Jr., president of First County Bank Foundation. “It’s exciting to be part of an organization which works together with these charities to ensure basic needs are met.”

The following 20 Norwalk-based nonprofit organizations received First County Bank Foundation grants in 2016:

United Way of Coastal CT- Norwalk

$5,000

For various community programs

Family & Children’s Agency

$15,000

FCA integrates services during Pregnancy and follow a vulnerable family until a child turns 8 years old

Liberation Programs

$5,000

Families in Recovery program

George Washington Carver Foundation of Norwalk

$5,000

Youth Development Program – emphasis on K-12 after school activities to encourage on- time high school graduation and college readiness

ElderHouse, Inc.

$5,000

Adult Day Program

Fairfield County’s Community Foundation

$3,000

Center for Non-Profit Excellence

Human Services Council

$10,000

Norwalk Mentor Program

Keystone House, Inc.

$5,000

Supported Apartment Services “Home Sweet Home”

Norwalk Senior Center, Inc.

$2,500

Meals on Wheels

Norwalk Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program

$5,000

Summer youth employment program

Norwalk Mayor’s Student Engineering and Science Program

$5,000

To support engineering and science learning in Norwalk schools

STAR Inc.

$3,500

Early intervention services for infants and toddler with developmental disabilities and support services. Birth to Three.

Community Plates

$5,000

Hunger relief – Direct transfer food rescue

Norwalk Community College Foundation

$10,000

ESL – Bridge to Credit Tutoring Program

Child Guidance Center of Mid- Fairfield County

$5,000

To improve the mental and behavioral health of children and teens through treatment, education, and community support

The Open Door Shelter

$5,000

Family and Children’s services

Courage to Speak Foundation, The

$5,000

To help fund the process of updating the teaching materials for the Courage to Speak drug prevention education program

Norwalk Grassroots Tennis and Education

$2,500

To teach a lifelong sport, sportsmanship and provide tutoring to student athletes

Norwalk Hospital Foundation

$5,000

Project LEAN

Side By Side Charter School

$1,500

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