Lifestyle Trends & Tips

Black Friday Safe Shopping Tips

During the Thanksgiving holiday, many prepare for the madness of the following morning, Black Friday.

While debit cards are a popular form of payment they may not be the best choice. Credit cards have become one of, if not the safest way to pay for purchases. Using a credit card is safer than a debit card because it is not directly linked to a checking account and you can often dispute charges if something is wrong.

Here are a few situations on Black Friday where you may be better suited to use a credit card:

  • Online. Since the debit card links directly to a checking account, don’t use a debit card online or for phone orders– you are potentially vulnerabile.
  • Big-Ticket Items. With a big ticket item, a credit card is safer. A credit card offers dispute rights if something goes wrong with the merchandise or the purchase. With a debit card, you have fewer protections.  In addition, some credit cards will also offer extended warranties. And in some situations, such as buying electronics or renting a car, some credit cards also offer additional property insurance to cover the item.
  • If You’re a New Customer. Online or in the real world, if you’re a first-time customer in a store, skip the debit card the first couple of times you buy.  That way, you get a feel for how the business is run, how you’re treated and the quality of the merchandise before you hand over a card that links to your checking account.
  • Buy Now, Take Delivery Later. Buying now but taking delivery days or weeks from now? A credit card offers dispute rights that a debit card typically does not.  But be aware that some cards will limit the protection to a specific time period. So settle any problems as soon as possible.

Here are some tips to help make your holiday shopping season safe and joyous:

  • Shop during the day when possible. If you have to shop at night, bring along a friend and park in well-lighted areas.
  • Avoid parking next to vans, trailers, and other vehicles with tinted windows.
  • Never leave valuable items in your car where they are visible to thieves.
  • If you carry a purse or backpack, guard it carefully. Never leave it on the roof of your car while you’re attempting to open or lock your car.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. It’s easy to get distracted by the bright lights and shopping specials, but it’s important to be vigilant about any hidden dangers.
  • Locate your keys before you get to your car.
  • Try not to carry large sums of cash on you.
  • Be suspicious of any strangers that may approach you, particularly in parking garages and parking lots.
  • Keep a record of all your credit card numbers at home in case your cards get lost or stolen.
  • Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, proceed with caution.

For more fraud protection or security tips, click here.

Bank News

A Thanksgiving Message

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson  

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection—a time to spend gathered with family and friends, to count our blessings and express our gratitude. Maybe you are in a good season and thriving with health and wealth? Take this opportunity to give to those in need. Know that the holiday season can be tough for some who have lost loved ones and for those who are struggling with health or financial issues. It truly is better to give than receive. Your kindness may even cause a chain reaction.

“I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same.” – Rachel Joy Scott

We are grateful for our wonderful, giving team of bank employees who help out in our community whenever they can. Together, we work to spread kindness and make someone’s day brighter. We were able to raise funds by volunteering at various events, collecting donations for nonprofits, our quarterly “Jeans Day for a Cause” donations, collecting food for the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County and much more.

As we reflect on the year, we are thankful for many blessings– most importantly, our family and friends, customers, awesome employees, executives and corporators of First County Bank and their families, and our community partners and nonprofit organizations that give tirelessly. We want to wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving and we hope that your day will be filled with joy.

Lifestyle Trends & Tips

Thanksgiving Travel Tips

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us – that treasured time for football, feasts, and family gatherings. It’s also the time when individuals and families flood airports around the country to fly during what has long-been known as the busiest travel time of the year.

If you’re among the thousands of Americans who will hit the airport this Thanksgiving, there are some steps you can take to ensure you have a safe and comfortable journey.

  1. Arrive early. Due to added traffic, it’s a good idea to arrive to the airport at least two hours before your flight. If you are flying out of an exceptionally busy airport, you may want to arrive even earlier.
  2. Carry on medications and valuables with you. This will ensure you have them with you at all times.
  3. Become familiar with TSA guidelines. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has very strict guidelines on the size of carry-on luggage and what you are allowed to bring. Be sure to familiarize yourself with these rules beforehand to eliminate hassle at the security checkpoint.
  4. Have your photo ID and ticket handy at all times. Due to increased volume and heightened security, you may be asked to show your ID and ticket more frequently than usual.
  5. Ensure your luggage is tagged. Be sure to include your name, address, and phone number in the event your luggage gets lost or misplaced.

Traveling by car instead? According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), 54.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 4.8 percent increase over last year. The 2018 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume in more than a dozen years since 2005, with 2.5 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year.

To ensure you arrive safely to your destination, be sure to practice these safe driving tips:

  • Rest up. Before taking a long car journey, it’s critical that you rest and get a good night’s sleep beforehand. For help staying alert during a long journey, consider bringing along a thermos with coffee or other caffeinated drinks.
  • Buckle up. Seat belts are a great way to limit injuries and save lives.
  • Fill ‘er up. Be sure to leave with a full gas tank and to check fluids and tire pressure before you set off on your journey.
  • Follow speed limits. Speeding is a leading cause of accidents. Also, to avoid costly fines and dangers, be sure to obey speed limit signs in construction zones.
  • Pay attention. Avoid electronic distractions by putting away your cellphone.
  • Share the road. If you have a long journey, consider sharing the driving with another licensed driver and switching off every few hours.
  • Take a break. Stop at rest areas to stretch your legs.
  • Pack healthy snacks. Bring along water, fruit, and protein snacks, such as peanuts. Try to avoid sugary treats, which will only make you tired later.
  • Map out your route beforehand. If you have a GPS, be sure to also bring along printed directions in the event that your GPS breaks down.
  • Bring along a safety kit. Your kit should include essentials, such as flashlights, flares, batteries, blankets, and first-aid supplies.

Best wishes for a safe and healthy Thanksgiving!

In Our Community

Stamford Downtown Balloon Parade was a Big Success

After two years of inclement weather, Sunday brought us great “flying” weather.

Paddington Bear took to the streets of downtown Stamford with 36 balloon handlers and more banner holders. Our volunteers, and for many this was their first balloon parade, marched and spun their way down Summer Street and Atlantic Street in front of large crowds. Marchers waved teal spin signs (2,500 were given out by our street teams) and followed the wild cheers of “spin, spin”.  A big thank you goes out to our balloon handlers. They did an outstanding job helping Paddington wave to his many fans. Thank you to the families who came to support us as well. And special thanks to the Atlantic Branch and Prospect Street teams for their efforts.

Take a look at some of our parade volunteers in action.

Thank you, volunteers!

  • Anne Hardy
  • John Bonora
  • Rey Giallongo
  • Bob Granata
  • Willard Miley
  • Vicki Puciato
  • Sara Tucker
  • Jason Benitez
  • Duncan Lee
  • Prasanta Nath
  • Ricky Arriaga
  • Edens Fleurizard
  • Monique Gist
  • Richard Evanko
  • Nashaly Caraballo
  • Elizabeth Grajeda
  • Brad Lupinacci
  • Stephanie Frederick
  • Anna Marie Pace
  • Nino Antonelli
  • Karen Patterson
  • Gerda Denis
  • Sophia Jean
  • Shaun Intriago
  • Aarti Bansal
  • Shelonddini Louis
  • Kevin Granata
  • Genesis Garcia
  • Sebastian Kulesza
  • Dominique Ruffin
  • Cristina Pace
  • Tamara Ledwith
  • Jennifer DaSilva
  • Michelle Bonora
  • Joe Granata
  • Faith Miley
  • Ryan Ledwith
  • Jose Luis Gutierrez
  • Marita Perillo
  • Stella Amortegui
  • Melissa Houle
  • Melissa Arevalo
  • Dave Metzgar
  • Gabriel Amortegui
  • Sendy Montour


In Our Community

First County Bank & Palmer’s Market Donate Turkeys to The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County

In the spirit of giving this holiday season, First County Bank teamed up with Palmer’s Market to donate 100 turkeys, a $1,500 donation, to the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County.

These turkeys will feed dozens of families in need in Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, and Wilton. The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County provides food to about 80 nonprofit agencies and programs that serve low income residents in their six-town service area through bags of groceries and congregate meals. The centers they serve include soup kitchens, food pantries, child care programs, homeless shelters, senior centers, domestic violence safe houses, and rehabilitation programs.

Pictured: First County Bank employees with Palmer’s Market donate turkeys to the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County, Inc. with Aitza Cabrera, Darien branch manager, Greg Palmer, owner of Palmer’s Market, and Mark Rosenbloom, vice president, Cash Management Services.

Bank News, Employee Profile

Employee Profile: Meet Jennifer DaSilva

Meet Jennifer DaSilva, Corporate Secretary at our Summer Street office. Jennifer has worked at First County Bank for 17 years.

Tell us a little about yourself – feel free to include information about your family, hobbies and/or involvement in the community:

I’m a mother of two children, Tony, 28, and Mia, 19. I’m also the mom of two finicky cats! I love reading, hiking, and visiting local flea markets to add to my vinyl collection.

What is your favorite part of your role with First County Bank?

My favorite part of my role here at First County Bank has been working with the Foundation since its inception, in 2001. I’m honored to now have an intimate role within the Foundation committee as the Foundation Secretary. Spending time and assisting Rey (CEO) and Bob (President) is also rewarding.

Do you have a favorite First County Bank moment? This can be any moment at the Bank that has made an impact on your life.

A few years ago at one of the Bank’s Annual Celebration of Mutual Partnerships, the bank’s annual foundation event, I bumped into the wife of my middle school music teacher. Along with a few other students, he requested that I play in a flute quartet at their wedding over 30 years ago.

Jennifer currently works as the Corporate Secretary for Reyno Giallongo, Chief Operating Officer, and Bob Granata, President at our Summer Street offices.

First County Advisors/Wealth Management

First County Advisors, the Wealth Management Division of First County Bank, Hosts Linda Duessel from Federated Investors

On October 25, First County Bank Advisors, the Wealth Management Division of First County Bank hosted a very special guest, Linda Duessel, CFA, CPA, CFP, Senior Equity Strategist, Senior Vice President with Federated Investors, Inc.

Ms. Duessel’s presentation, “Economic and Market Outlook: It All Depends On Your Time Horizon” was well-received by an audience of approximately 120 people at Innes Arden Country Club in Greenwich.

Guests heard Linda share insights on timely market trends and topics about the economic impact of global affairs, the impact of mid-term elections, the closer watch on inflation as well as demographic changes and the impact of millennials.

Following her presentation there was an interactive Q&A with our guests.

Digital Connection

#DigitalConnection: Go Cardless with Apple Pay® and Samsung Pay®

Have you ever forgotten your First County Bank debit or credit card at home? First County Bank now offers alternative payment methods with the Mobile Wallet feature. Customers no longer need to present their debit or credit card at checkout when they use the Apple Pay® or Samsung Pay® app.

Customers can convert their First County Bank debit or credit card into a digital version through these Mobile Wallets. Simply download the Apple Pay® or Samsung Pay® app, enter your First County Bank Card information, complete the enrollment process, and start paying from your mobile device. Transactions can be carried out using the digital version of your card via mobile device, eliminating the need to always carry a physical card.

Mobile Wallets ensure the protection of customers by using a encryption system, keeping card information private from merchants. First County Bank’s Mobile Payment Solutions offer a secure and useful alternative to paying with a physical card whether in store or online. During enrollment, see our Digital Wallet Services disclosures for terms, conditions, and further details.


Did You Know?

Did You Know? A ValueAccess Checking Account with BaZing Provides Travel Accidental Death Insurance

Did you know that a ValueAccess Checking Account with BaZing** provides Travel Accidental Death Insurance* for when the unexpected happens?

Life insurance can help secure the financial future of your loved ones, help with funeral costs and pay off any outstanding debts you may have. Insurance can seem complicated and overwhelming, but we are here to be sure you know that we can help with all of your financial needs, including protecting your family from the unexpected. If you’re a parent, life insurance can help to pay for tuition and other educational expenses for your child.

*Insurance products are not FDIC insured; not insured by any government agency, not a deposit or other obligation of First County Bank, and not guaranteed by First County Bank. See checking account disclosures*** for details.

**Fees, terms and conditional apply.


Trends & Tips

Cyber Security Month

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and we’re sharing some tips with you to be sure you stay safe this holiday season while shopping online or at your local brick and mortar stores. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is commemorating its 15th year initiative to raise awareness about the importance of cyber security. The  collaborative effort between government and industry professionals is to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online, and help reduce occurrences of cyber-threats.

The National Cyber Security Alliance is emphasizing four key messages this month which are as follows:

  • Cyber security is our shared responsibility and we all must work together to improve our nation’s cyber security.
  • Strengthen the nation’s cyber security ecosystem.
  • Tackle it together: Cyber security is a cross-cutting, cross-sector problem, so we have got to tackle it together.
  • Build up the cyber security workforce across all sectors and secure critical infrastructure from cyber threats.

Here at First County Bank, we encourage you to protect your accounts while shopping on your cell phone. Mobile technology is changing the way we think of our wallet. Along with using your physical debit or credit card you may now also access your accounts with your mobile device – often referred to as a “Digital Wallet.” Digital Wallets may be used to conveniently pay for goods and services; manage your payments and accounts; receive offers from merchants you know and trust; track and spend reward or loyalty points; store digital receipts and warranty information; and get alerts about your account and spending.

Similar to the way you protect your physical wallet it is important to protect your digital wallet. Here are a few tips to help make sure your Digital Wallet is as secure as it is convenient.

  • Keep Your Login Credentials Secure: Easy access to usernames and passwords leads to misuse.
  • Use Device Security Features: Set devices to require a password before they can be used.
  • Use a Unique Password for Your Digital Wallet: Use a strong password and don’t use
    the same password you use for email or social networking sites.
  • Keep Your Device Updated: Hardware and software manufacturers release frequent updates
    to optimize performance and security.
  • Use Security Software: Activate anti-virus and anti-malware software.
  • Use the Right App: Only install apps from the appropriate trusted app store.
  • Connect to Secure Networks: Secure network connections usually require passwords and
    are identified as “WPA or WPA2.” Unsecure networks are available to the public and may be
    labeled as a “WEP” connection.
  • Monitor Your Accounts: First County Bank mobile banking allows you to set up account
  • Keep Your Private Stuff Private: Don’t share sensitive data. First County Bank will never
    ask for private information such as passwords or account numbers.
  • Don’t click on Random Links: Avoid links received via text even when you think you know
    the sender.
  • Remove Compromised Cards: If your physical card is lost or stolen remove it from your
    digital wallet.

Contact First County Bank immediately if your mobile device is lost or stolen, an individual card stored in your Digital Wallet is lost or stolen, or if you suspect that your account has been compromised. If you have any questions please call our CustomerFirst Contact Center at (203) 462-4400 (Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).

For more information on how to stay safe, please visit the e-fraud section of our website.