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.

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.

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.

Trends & Tips

How to Talk to Your Kids About Money

talktokidsaboutmoney-iconHow soon is too soon to talk to your kids or grandkids about money? If they are old enough to ask for a toy or a bike, they are old enough to start learning financial lessons that will last a lifetime.

The best financial lessons are part of everyday experience. Look for opportunities to talk about money, read books aloud and play games that center around spending money wisely. Be open and honest when you discuss your financial experiences—good or bad.

Here are some examples of teachable moments to help you get started:

  • At the bank. When you go to the bank, bring your children with you and show them how transactions work. Get the manager to explain how the bank operates, how money generates interest and how an ATM works. Ask the manager for a tour—be sure to ask to see the vault.
  • On payday. Discuss how your pay is budgeted to pay for housing, food and clothing, and how a portion is saved for future expenses such as college tuition and retirement.
  • At the market. It’s easy to give clear examples of “needs” and “wants” using different kinds of foods at a grocery store. Milk (for strong bones) is a need; soft drinks are a want. Explain the benefits of comparison shopping, coupons and store brands.
  • Chores and allowances. Assign chores and give them a monetary value. Discuss ways to budget and divide allowances. Encourage children to set a financial goal, such as saving for a bike, and figure out how to achieve it.
  • Paying bills. Explain the many ways that bills can be paid: over the phone, paper or by check, electronic check or online check draft. Discuss how each method of bill pay takes money out of your account. Be sure to cover late penalties, emphasizing the importance of paying bills on time.
  • Using credit cards. Explain that credit cards are a loan and need to be repaid. Share how each month a credit card statement comes in the mail with a bill. Go over the features of different types of cards, such as ATM, debit and credit cards.
  • Browsing the Internet. While online, explain to your children how valuable their personal information and privacy is to you, to them and to online predators. Discuss the risks and benefits of sharing certain information. Then, as a family, make a list of rules for keeping personal information safe online.
  • Planning a vacation. Whether you are planning an outing to a local amusement park or a once-in-a-lifetime trip, emphasize the value of saving as a family. Set a family savings goal that involves your children. Figure out the cost and discuss ways everyone can help to reach the goal.

Always encourage your children to ask questions about money. If you don’t know the answer, research it together or ask your banker.

 

Smart Savings Tips, Trends & Tips

September is College Savings Month

moneygradcap-icon

The month of September is often a turning point for many – we welcome back pumpkin-flavored coffee, a new season of sports and of course, a new academic year. Annually regarded as College Savings Month, we will be using September to offer the latest tips and trends on how you can save – whether it’s your first or last semester.

Saving while in college can be as simple as having the right account. At First County Bank, we offer a variety of savings accounts. FirstPrize $avings may be the perfect fit for a college student. The account encourages you to save, by entering each eligible deposit into a drawing for $1,000!* Not only will this account instill the valuable lesson of saving each month, it can reward you for your efforts!

Stay on the lookout for more college savings tips throughout the month of September! If you’re interested in learning more about the FirstPrize $avings account, click here.

 

* Refer to http://www.firstcountybank.com/savings-account-disclosure for account official rules and disclosure.

Smart Savings Tips, Trends & Tips

10 Tips to Green Your Home and $ave Money

FCB_ICONS_LightbulbWhether you’re a renter or a homeowner, chances are you care about protecting the environment – and saving money. Here are some tips from the American Bankers Association to help you do both.

Location, location, location efficiency.
Carefully consider the location of your home. If you’re close to work, shopping and entertainment, you may not need a car. Without a car you would save money on gas, car insurance and maintenance, not to mention reduce pollution. If you’re thinking about moving further away, try to find something near public transportation and shopping.

Light up the house, not the electric bill. 
Replacing incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs will save you about $6 a year in electricity costs per bulb and more than $40 over its lifetime. According to ENERGY STAR, if every American home replaced just one light bulb, we would save enough energy to prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Remember to recycle used CFL bulbs. Go to www.epa.gov/bulbrecycling​ for recycling locations.

Some like it hot, hot, hot…or cold, cold, cold. 
Closely monitor your thermostat. Adjusting it just a few degrees while you’re out can save energy and money. You can make it easier by installing a programmable thermostat. Use fans and close the blinds during the warm months and let the sun in for natural warmth in the winter. Also, change your filter every three months.

How low can you go?
One way to save water is by using low-flow toilets. The most cost-effective way to do this is to simply take a 1 liter plastic bottle, fill it with water and place it inside the tank. This will reduce your water use per flush. Another way to save water is placing an aerator on all of your faucets.

Make it mean-green-clean. 
Cleaning supplies can be expensive and are made with toxic chemicals. You can save money and the environment by making your own cleaning supplies. All you need are some basic household ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and borax to clean everything from windows to tile. Look online for recipes and suggestions.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! 
Sticking to this mantra can help you save money around the house. Use a rag instead of paper towels. Buy products in bulk, concentrate or refillable containers to reduce packaging waste. Look for products made from recycled content. And don’t forget to recycle!

Win-dos for your windows. 
There are a number of ways you can make your windows more energy efficient without replacing them. For better insulation from the weather you can caulk exterior joints, put shrink wrap on them or hang blackout curtains.

Fan the green flames.
To keep your refrigerator running efficiently, keep the fan clean. The motor won’t have to work as hard if the fan is clear of debris.

Decorate green. 
Houseplants are like living air-filters. English Ivy, rubber trees, peace lilies and red-edged dracaena can help clean the air and look pretty too.

Vampire energy is sucking you dry. 
On or off, anything plugged into the wall sucks energy. Vampire power costs U.S. consumers more than $3 billion a year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Unplug your electronics and appliances when they’re not in use.

 

Smart Savings Tips, Trends & Tips

6 Financial Traps New College Graduates Should Avoid

FCB_GradCapAs college seniors across the nation graduate and start their careers, their financial lifestyle should be top of mind, says the American Bankers Association. ABA has highlighted six traps new college graduates should avoid to fortify their finances as they transition from the dorm to the office.

“Now is the time for college grads to get their financial life started on the right foot,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “When it comes to managing your finances in the real world, pulling an all-nighter isn’t the best strategy.  Forming positive financial habits today will set you up for lifelong success.”

According to the ABA, new college graduates should avoid the following financial traps:

  • Not having a budget.  Don’t spend more than you make. Calculate the amount of money you’re taking home after taxes, then figure out how much money you can afford to spend each month while contributing to your savings. Be sure to factor in recurring expenses such as student loans, monthly rent, utilities, groceries, transportation expenses and car loans.
  • Forgoing an emergency fund.  Make it a priority to set aside the equivalent of three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Start putting some money away immediately, no matter how small the amount. A bank savings account is a smart place to stash your cash for a rainy day. Use your tax refund for this instead of an impulse buy.
  • Paying bills late – or not at all. Each missed payment can hurt your credit history for up to seven years, and can affect your ability to get loans, the interest rates you pay and your ability to get a job or rent an apartment. Consider setting up automatic payments for regular expenses like student loans, car payments and phone bills.
  • Racking up debt. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit.  Shop around for a card that best suits your needs, and spend only what you can afford to pay back. Credit is a great tool, but only if you use it responsibly.
  • Not thinking about the future.  It may seem odd since you’re just beginning your career, but now is the best time to start planning for your retirement. Contribute to your employer’s 401(k) or similar account, especially if there is a company match. Invest enough to qualify for your company’s full match – it’s free money that adds up to a significant chunk of change over the years.
  • Ignoring help from your bank. Most banks offer online, mobile and text banking tools to manage your account night and day.  Use these tools to check balances, pay bills, deposit checks, monitor transaction history and track budgets.
Lifestyle Trends & Tips, Trends & Tips

6 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Finances

FCB_ICONS_ClockAs spring cleaning season begins, the American Bankers Association is encouraging consumers to put a priority on organizing their finances. ABA has highlighted six tips for getting your financial house in order.

“With the tax season ending, spring is a great time to take a close look at your budget and bank account,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “You’ll have a clear picture of your financial situation, and you can make stress-reducing moves now that will pay dividends throughout the year.”

ABA recommends these six tips to help consumers organize their finances:

  • Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
  • Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child, or become a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving – and stick to it.
  • Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate.
  • Download your bank’s mobile app. From the palm of your hand, you can make a deposit or access a record of all your recent transactions. Be sure to download the latest updates when they are available.
  • Sign up for e-statements, paperless billing and text alerts. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house—physical and financial—more clean and organized, and will help protect you from fraud.
  • Set up automatic bill pay. By signing up for automatic bill pay, you’ll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.
Trends & Tips

8 Ways to Stop an Identity Thief

FCB_IdentityProtectMore than 15.4 million Americans were victims of identity fraud last year, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. The American Bankers Association is offering eight tips to help consumers protect their information to avoid becoming a victim.

“Identity fraud continues to be a major problem for consumers,” said Doug Johnson, ABA’s senior vice president of payments and cybersecurity policy. “Fortunately, there are ways consumers can protect themselves, like being cautious about what information they share and who they share it with, especially online.”

ABA suggests following these eight tips:

  • Don’t share your secrets. Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.
  • Shred sensitive papers. Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
  • Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements and other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
  • Use online banking to protect yourself. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
  • Monitor your credit report. Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com.
  • Protect your computer. Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.
  • Protect your mobile device. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for senders you don’t know.

Report any suspected fraud immediately.

In Our Community, Trends & Tips

“Tips from the Experts to Drive Your Business”

Mark Rosenbloom

Mark Rosenbloom

Mark Rosenbloom, Vice President & Manager, Cash Management Services Department will be moderating a business panel discussion, “Stay Relevant in Today’s Changing Marketplace” on Wednesday, May 17th at the Darien Library. This forum is free and open to anyone who wants to hear from local business experts on how they navigate today’s marketplace.

Panel members include:

  • Cindy Palmer Dean, Owner and Creative Director at Palmer’s Market in Darien.
  • Doug Campbell, Executive and Career Consultant/Coach, Business Owner, Author, National Speaker and Innovator.
  • Brian Jarvis, SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business” Volunteer.
  • Peter Belbita, Founder, Noble House Creative Group

You may arrive at 5:30 p.m. to sign-in and submit questions you want answered by the panel. The discussion begins at 5:45 p.m. Please register in advance at darienctchamber.com.