Trends & Tips

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Mobile Banking Precautions

cybersecurity-mobileMobile banking offers account access with the same tight security measures as the full desktop websites counterpart. By following these steps, it is possible to make things much harder for criminals and to significantly lower your safety risks:

  1. Always use a pin or gesture code to lock mobile devices. If a physical device falls into the hands of a criminal, the first thing they should be faced with is security, particularly where access to finances and other data is concerned.
  2. Only use official routes to communicate with financial institutions.   Ensuring users stick to the official ways of contacting and receiving information from their banks is key. Mobile banking shouldn’t dramatically change the way banks communicate, so ignoring links to sites in emails requesting details, unusual texts or other messages, is advice worth noting when using a smartphone as it is when using a desktop PC, tablet or  laptop.
  3. Be aware of connection services.  Public Wi-Fi is far easier to ‘sniff’ for data than mobile data connections provided by a network operator. Unless the user is 100% sure of the security, or trust the connection on offer, think twice about dealing with personal finances over it.  Installing trusted security software, like Norton Mobile Security or Norton Tablet Security, will help prevent malware – the cybercriminal’s number one tool – from logging keystrokes or gaining access to a device. It can also scan emails to provide support in avoiding phishing attacks seeking bank account information.
  4. Be careful what you download.  It’s possible that mobile banking sessions could come under threat from code carried by other applications downloaded. While security software can scan for threats on a device, be aware of information entered onto a device and try to stick to well -regarded or official sources of applications or content.
  5. Read the fine print. Does your financial institution’s app allow you to delete all banking-related messages, pictures and other data saved on the phone? Can you disable the feature that automatically signs you in to your online bank account the minute your phone is turned on? Once connected to your account, will the app automatically disconnect after a certain period of inactivity?
  6. Set up your phone to encrypt data. Make sure your phone has an application to encrypt all stored data. Then, use it to protect sensitive messages from your financial institution and pictures of valid checks.  Photos of checks and other sensitive banking data may be stored on your phone’s memory expansion card. Even if the phone itself is secured with encryption, the card probably is not. Note that older phones may not have enough power to run encryption software.
  7. Download anti-virus software and enable firewall protection for your cell phone. Make sure to update it regularly.
  8. Never respond to email messages from your bank that request personal information. Banks or Credit Unions never ask for this information by email. Mark it as spam, and delete it. Next, delete all your cached content (sent messages, received messages, etc.) on a regular basis. Finally, check your browser security settings to help filter out phishing emails.
  9. Be skeptical about text messages. Before opening a text that appears to be from your bank, and especially before hitting “reply,” call your financial institution first to make sure the message is actually from them.

If you enjoyed these tips and want to learn more about Fraud Prevention & Safety visit our website by clicking here or visit: http://firstcountybank.com/efraud-protection.

First County Bank Profile

#FrontlineFridays: Meet Lily Alvarez Angeles

IMG_7740Meet Lily Alvarez Angeles, Teller at the First County Bank Prospect Street Branch located at 117 Prospect Street in this edition of #FrontlineFridays.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a simple person, who believes in God. I am fully convinced that God is good and that He acts every day in my family’s life. I am a wife and a mom who takes care of her family as best as possible. I have two children, Gerardo, 20, who is a junior at UCONN Stamford and Analily, 9, who just started 3rd grade at a school in Stamford.

What is your favorite part of your role at First County Bank?
What I like most about my job at First County Bank is helping customers, treating them with joy and a smile, and listening and motivating them to have a beautiful day. I love to meet customers from different places around the world. The Bank is perfect to meet a lot of people who think and act differently; as we have a diverse community.

What is the most frequent question you receive from customers?
The most frequent question I get from customers is “what is the balance in my checking account?”

What is your favorite thing to do during the fall?
My favorite activity in autumn is to go to the park with my children.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
My favorite First County Bank moment was when I was preparing a speech about my experience as a woman, new to this wonderful country, for the Women’s Mentoring Network.  The speech was read last year at a celebration for First County Bank Foundation’s 15th Anniversary. The best part was having the Prospect Street Branch help me perfect my speech. Our branch manager, Edens, was so over joyed with the collaboration of the speech that he bought us all lunch.

Trends & Tips

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Data Breach Advice

cybersecurityicon-2Did you recently get a notice that says your personal information was exposed in a data breach? Did you lose your wallet? Or learn that an online account was hacked? Depending on what information was lost, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself from identity theft.

  • Be extra careful about emails and attachments.  Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails that claim to be updates from any company connected to a data breach. Learn More.
  • Use Two-factor authentication.  Two-factor authentication adds a second level of authentication to an account log-in. When you have to enter only your username and one password, that’s considered a single-factor authentication. 2FA requires the user to have two out of three types of credentials before being able to access an account. Learn More.
  • Check your Credit Cards accounts often.Reviewing your recent account activity is fundamental to credit card security—and it’s easy. You can do it online or by phone. If your credit card issuer offers email or text alerts about unusual activity, sign up to receive them.
  • Monitor credit reports. Check your credit report for any accounts that crooks may have opened in your name. Credit reports are available for free, from each of the three national credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — every 12 months. Some monitoring services and credit card companies now allow you unlimited access to credit information, so you could theoretically check every day.
  • Know what to do if you suspect credit card fraud. Call the bank or financial institution that issued your card immediately. Your issuer may want to cancel your current card and issue you a new one. Check with your issuer to verify that your mailing address has not been changed.

If you enjoyed these tips and want to learn more about Fraud Prevention & Safety visit our website by clicking here or visit: http://firstcountybank.com/efraud-protection.

First County Bank Profile

#FrontlineFridays: Meet Wayne Eber

wayneeberMeet Wayne Eber, Customer Service Representative at the First County Bank North Stamford Branch located at 1042 High Ridge Road in this edition of #FrontlineFridays.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Chicago, Illinois and spent my early life in the suburb of Northbrook – which was known at the time for Olympic skaters. My father was a research chemist and we relocated several times in my adolescence. Consequently, I attended three different high schools and graduated from Catholic High for Boys in Memphis, Tennessee.

I went on to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle for a year. I then attended Norwalk Community College, and finally got my college degree with a concentration in Business from Charter Oak College in Connecticut in 1988.

I’ve worked for several banks but my best experience has been with First County Bank. This January will be my 24th year here.

I also enjoy singing and have been working for many years with a group, “Marie’s Circle of Singers”. On occasion we perform in nursing homes.

What is your favorite part of your role at First County Bank?
My favorite part of my role at First County Bank is the customer contact and ability to offer first class service to our customers. They have certainly become family through all these years.

What is the most frequent question you receive from customers?
The most frequent question I receive is, “How many years have you been with the Bank?”

What is your favorite thing to do during the fall?
My favorite activity is traveling through the Northeast to experience the beauty of the fall foliage. My travels have largely taken me through New York State, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
I remember cruising on the Long Island Sound around the Norwalk Islands with my co-workers in the early days of when I began working for the Bank. I really enjoy my co-workers and getting to know their families, attending their weddings, etc.

First County Bank Foundation, In Our Community

Celebrate World Teacher’s Day

World Teacher’s Day was established October 5th, 1994. World Teacher’s Day commemorates the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) actions of setting international standards for teacher organizations. The standards set by UNESCO help to recognize the great contributions teachers make to their students through education and development.

Ms. Kuehn Big Check

We also recognize the great contributions that teachers make in our community, which is why we developed the FirstClass Grant for Teachers. Through this program, we hope to help fund creative educational programs for teachers inside the classroom. You too can show your appreciation of teachers by spreading the word about this opportunity. For more information or to apply for the FirstClass Grant Program for Teachers, click here or visit: http://firstcountybank.com/firstclass-grant.

Trends & Tips

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

cybersecuritytalkingpointsOctober is annually celebrated at National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This is a great time for you to take a step back and assess your or your organizations efforts as it relates to cybersecurity. Throughout the month we plan on sharing tips that you can use to stay secure online.

For more information on National Cybersecurity Awareness Month you can search the hashtag #NCSAM or you can visit our eFraud Prevention & Safety section of our website by clicking here or visiting: http://firstcountybank.com/efraud-protection.

Bank News, In Our Community

Westport Library and First County Bank Announce Mutual Support of Library’s Transformation Project

The Westport Library and First County Bank are pleased to announce mutual support of the Library’s long-awaited Transformation Project. The Transformation Project is a $19.5 million-dollar sweeping renovation of the existing 1986 facility that kicked off earlier this month. First County Bank is providing bridge financing for the project’s capital campaign through a competitively priced customized financial solution.

Rey Giallongo, Chairman and CEO, First County Bank speaking at the Westport Library's Transformation Project ground-breaking.

Rey Giallongo, Chairman and CEO, First County Bank speaking at the Westport Library’s Transformation Project ground-breaking.

“A project of this nature is simply not possible without the strong support of many community partners,” said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer. “We are proud and grateful to have First County Bank as one of those key partners. Their belief in the mission and vision for the new Library and what it will mean for the community we serve has been critical in finally getting the shovel in the ground on this exciting transformation.”

“Having been in Westport for 21 years and an independent community bank for 167 years, we, like the Library, have learned about staying relevant in our communities. We understand the changing landscape in library science, education and the plan put forward by the Library team is nothing short of visionary,” said First County Bank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Rey Giallongo. “We are proud to support this transformation and invest in such a community treasure.” First County Bank is also providing full banking services to the Library, as a result of the Request for Proposal (RFP) process initiated by The Library.

In addition to the bridge financing from First County Bank, funding for the Transformation Project is being provided by a variety of sources. Public dollars from the Town of Westport were approved in January of 2017 when the Town’s RTM unanimously approved the allocation of $5 million for the initiative. The town’s funding will cover the cost to replace the dated and inefficient mechanical systems – the HVAC, plumbing and elevator – which are original to the 1986 facility. The Library also applied for and received a $1 million dollar grant from the Connecticut State Library. The bulk of the funding is being raised by private donors. To date, the Library has raised $17 million for the project.

 

First County Bank Profile

#FrontlineFridays: Meet Anna Zaremba

web-azMeet Anna Zaremba, Teller at the First County Bank North Stamford Branch located at 1042 High Ridge Road in this edition of #FrontlineFridays.

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Anna Zaremba and I am a Teller at First County Bank. I have been working at the Bank since October 2016. When I was 26, I earned my Master’s degree in Architecture and Urban Planning in the Bialystok Technical University in Poland. Presently, I live in Norwalk with my family. When I’m not working I enjoy field trips with my dog Rosie and my Nikon camera.

What is your favorite part of your role at First County Bank?
That’s a difficult question, because there is a lot I like about my current job. I’d say that I enjoy the responsibility and precise approach which is necessary for me to deliver extraordinary customer service for our customers. I like to carry positive emotions into the workplace and in interactions with the customers. I enjoy giving direct support to my colleagues and management in a way that really makes a difference for our customers. I enjoy the challenge that every day brings.

What is the most frequent question you receive from customers?
“How can I open an account?” And “how can I get help if something goes wrong?”

What is your favorite fall/autumn activity?
Hiking on colorful leaf-strewn trails, apple picking and making my home filled with a smell of freshly baked apple pie.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
The best parts of my job are meeting new people and developing great relationships with them. I love helping people with their banking needs in a knowledgeable, professional manner and guiding customers through tough everyday financial choices. It is extremely rewarding to see them leave happy.

Smart Savings Tips

4 Tips on How to Save at College

moneybankBy now college students are nearing the end of their first full month of a new semester. This often means a few things: midterms are a lot closer than they appear, their roommates are likely better than they initially expected and they begin making the infamous call home asking “can you please send money”. If you plan on making this call, here are four tips on ways to save while you’re away at school.

  1. Track your expenses. This may be the most simply yet satisfying way to save some cash. In order to save, you need to know where your money is going. Additionally, tracking your expenses is a good skill to have once you enter the “real world”.
  2. Cut unnecessary costs. Learn the ins and outs of your school’s meal plan; be sure to maximize what is offered so you don’t find yourself eating out every day.
  3. Look for extra income. Aside from scholarships and grants, try getting a work-study job on campus or internships that will pay money.
  4. Build your savings. Don’t get a work-study or internship just to turnaround and spend what you make. Get in the habit of putting some money aside – the “senior-year-you” will thank the “freshman-year- you”.

For more tips on how to save at college or to read the entire article, click here

In Our Community

First County Bank Announces Recent Winners of FirstPrize $avings Account Drawing

We are excited to announce that the winners of the FirstPrize $avings $1,000 drawing was Marie and Kamisha Byas of Stamford, CT who had a joint account. FirstPrize $avings is an innovative basic savings account with a cash prize drawing component to promote personal savings. With each eligible deposit of $25 or more, the account holder earns an entry into a drawing for a $1,000 prize. The drawing occurs four times per calendar year.

Use for PR

“We have plans for this money. Kamisha and I agreed it would be a down payment for my car,” said Marie. Photographed are Jennifer Garcia, Assistant Branch Manager of the First County Bank Prospect Street Branch, Kamisha and Marie Byas, and Robert Granata, COO and President of First County Bank.

“I’m thrilled to present Marie and Kamisha with $1,000 for winning the Bank’s FirstPrize $avings account drawing,” said Robert Granata, COO and president of First County Bank.  “First County Bank developed the new product in order to provide a cash prize incentive to encourage people to save, while making saving money exciting.”

Responding to the overwhelming need for consumers to increase their savings, First County Bank designed the FirstPrize $avings account to inspire those over the age of 18 to save by encouraging frequent and consistent deposits. This behavior reinforces the habit of saving with the fun of earning chances for a cash prize. With each eligible deposit of $25 or greater into this savings account, account holders can automatically earn chances to win $1,000. Account holders can earn up to ten chances per month and up to 30 chances per three month drawing period. A winner is selected in a random drawing held four times per year. Account details, rules and regulations are posted on the First County Bank savings account website https://firstcountybank.com/firstprize-savings.