Trends & Tips

Small Business Guide to Corporate Account Takeover

Corporate account takeover is a type of fraud where thieves gain access to a business’s finances to make unauthorized transactions, including transferring funds from the company, creating and adding new fake employees to payroll, and stealing sensitive customer information that may not be recoverable.

Cyber thieves target employees through phishing, phone calls, and even social networks. It is common for thieves to send emails posing as a bank, a delivery company, court, or the Better Business Bureau. Once the email is opened, malware is loaded on the computer which then records login credentials and passcodes and reports them back to the criminals.

How do I protect myself and my small business?
Consider these tips to ensure your business is well prepared:

  • Educate your employees. You and your employees are the first line of defense against corporate account takeover. A strong security program paired with employee education about the warning signs, safe practices, and responses to a suspected takeover are essential to protecting your company and customers.
  • Protect your online environment. It is important to protect your cyber environment just as you would your cash and physical location. Do not use unprotected internet connections. Encrypt sensitive data and keep updated virus protections on your computer. Use complex passwords and change them periodically.
  • Partner with us to prevent unauthorized transactions. Talk to us about programs that safeguard you from unauthorized transactions. Positive Pay and other services offer call backs, multi-factor authentication, multi-person approval processes and batch limits that help protect you from fraud.
  • Pay attention to suspicious activity and react quickly. Look out for unexplained account or network activity, pop ups, and suspicious emails. If detected, immediately contact your financial institution, stop all online activity and remove any systems that may have been compromised. Keep records of what happened.
  • Understand your responsibilities and liabilities. The account agreement with your bank will detail what commercially reasonable security measures are required in your business. It is critical that you understand and implement the security safeguards in the agreement. If you don’t, you could be liable for losses resulting from a takeover.

For questions, feel free to contact our CustomerFirst Contact Center at 203.462.4400 (Mon. – Fri., 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). To read more articles like this, click here or visit: www.firstcountybank.com/your-security.

Bank News, Trends & Tips

Homebuyer Seminar: Wednesday, April 25th

Buying or refinancing a home? Learn where to start, what to consider and the do’s & don’ts.

Join First County Bank Mortgage Loan Originator, Justyna Nurczyk and Fairfield County mortgage experts to learn the ins and outs of the home-buying process. Wednesday, April 25 5:30-7:00 PM 469 Westport Ave. Norwalk, CT 06850 Seating is limited, please RSVP.

MEET THE EXPERTS:

  • Arlene Bubbico Realtor, Coldwell Banker
  • Annie Bonanno Consultant, Credit Repair Solutions
  • Richard Sandor, Esq. Attorney-At-Law

DETAILS:

  • Date: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 – 5:30pm to 7:00pm
  • Location: Norwalk Branch, 469 Westport Avenue, Norwalk CT
  • Contact: Norwalk Branch, 203.462.4415

For more info and to RSVP call (203)462-4415 or email norwalk1@firstcountybank.com. Refreshments will be served.

Smart Savings Tips, Trends & Tips

10 Tools for Success in Financial Literacy Month

If you’re struggling to find a way to analyze your finances, get a jumpstart by considering these tools for success provided at FinancialLiteracyMonth.com:

  • Free Webinars – Sign up for free webinars designed to help you on your path to financial wellness. Topics include goal setting, credit reporting, managing credit, debt repayment, and budgeting.
  • Income Worksheet – Use the income worksheet to help you determine the amount of income you can realistically count on.
  • Net Worth Worksheet – Calculating your net worth is as simple as comparing what you owe (liabilities) and what you own (assets).
  • Debt Load Worksheet – Create an accurate picture of your debt obligations.
  • Financial Priorities Worksheet – Creating a list of needs and wants can help you establish your financial priorities.
  • Financial Goal Worksheet – Smart financial goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding, and Trackable. Use this worksheet to identify short-, mid-, and long-term SMART goals.
  • Goal Certificate – Create a “fridge friendly” personalized goal certificate to help you stay motivated.
  • Record of Daily Expenditures – Knowing where your money is going is critical for a successful budget. Track your daily expenses and then ask yourself if you’re spending your money wisely.
  • Expense Worksheet – Create and follow a spending plan. A realistic monthly spending plan is a valuable tool to guide your spending and saving decisions.
  • Tips for Change eBook – Download the eBook to read tips submitted by financially savvy consumers.

If you’ve found these tools helpful, have questions or would like to work through a tool with a trusted advisor, we encourage you to reach out to your local banker. Let’s work together to get you on the path to financial wellness.

Smart Savings Tips, Trends & Tips

April is National Financial Literacy Month

April has been regarded as National Financial Literacy Month for almost twenty years. Financial literacy is something everyone should be educated about or have a trusted advisor they can come to for help. At First County Bank we understand the importance of teaching skills and providing our customers and community the opportunity to educate themselves.

This April, we encourage you to take the next step in learning more about your own finances – strengths, weaknesses and most importantly, opportunities. That next step can be as simple as scrolling through our blog to read about Smart Savings Tips or Lifestyle Trends & Tips. To pursue financial literacy further, we encourage you to talk to your local banker.

Trends & Tips

Fingerprint Authentication

cybersecurity-mobileIf Tax Identity Theft Awareness week has you thinking about your online banking security too, we hope to provide you some peace of mind.

Increase the security of your online banking mobile banking app, by signing up for Fingerprint Authentication – it’s simple and convenient. To enroll in Fingerprint Authentication, follow these simple steps:

  1. Login to your First County Bank Mobile Banking App,
  2. Go to the menu and click on the “Mobile Services” tab,
  3. Select “Manage Fingerprint”,
  4. Select Fingerprint Enrollment and follow the steps on the screen!

An extra layer of security is really that simple.

Trends & Tips

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week

tax-id-theft-iconThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has begun their annual Tax Identify Theft Awareness campaign. This week, the FTC, the IRS, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and others will host free webinars and Twitter chats about avoiding tax identity theft and IRS impostor scams. If you’re a taxpayer, tax professional, service member, or small business operator, there’s an event for you. For more information on informational events, click here.

The best ways to avoid tax identity theft:

  • File your tax return as early as possible.
  • Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.
  • Know the IRS won’t contact you by email, text, or social media. If the IRS needs information, it will contact you by mail.
  • Check your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com to make sure there are no unauthorized accounts.

While it may seem like a hassle, simple precautionary steps like these can save you trouble in the long-run.

Trends & Tips

Importance of Creating a Budget

budget iconWhether you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck or making millions a year, it is important that you budget your money. No matter how much you make, unexpected expenses or circumstances can cost your financial future and security.

Even though you can’t predict what obstacles life will bring you, you can stay ahead by preparing a personal or family budget.

Budgeting, which involves calculating your expenses and income over a set period of time, can help you take control of your financial future by allowing you to –

  • Set a course for your goals. For example, if you want to buy a home, having a budget will allow you to determine how much money you can save toward your goal and when you may reach it.
  • Determine where your money is spent. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not knowing how they spend their money. If you track your expenses with your budget each month, you’ll have greater control of your money and easily identify areas of waste or opportunity.
  • Build savings. If you know how much you earn and how much you spend, you will be able to determine the amount you can set aside for savings.
  • Prepare for emergencies. If you manage to carve out savings in your budget, you will be better equipped to handle any unexpected expenses that may arise.

But perhaps one of the biggest advantages of having a budget is that it can help you sleep better at night. You’ll know how much you have to spend, ensuring you don’t spend more than you have.

First County Advisors/Wealth Management, Trends & Tips

Newly Enacted Tax Reform Update

Jeff Action 526As the final details of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act emerge from Washington D.C., we would like to share some of the key changes that will affect our customers in the coming year.  Changes regarding deductibility of mortgages, Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs), as well as state and local taxes are found in the new law.  Highlights for individuals include:

  • The deductibility of interest on new mortgages is limited to $750,000 of principal. Existing loans made prior to 12/16/2017 will be grandfathered at the old level of $1,000,000.  The refinancing of grandfathered mortgages will also be allowed under the new law.
  • Interest paid on a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) will no longer be deductible. The pre-reform level was $100,000.
  • The deductibility of state and local taxes, including income and property taxes, will be capped at $10,000 per year for Single and Married Filing Jointly taxpayers. Married Filing Separate taxpayers will be capped at $5,000.

Beyond the changes in deductibility of many items, the new law completely restructures the old income brackets and tax rates.  Generally speaking, the result is that most individuals will see their income taxed at a lower average and marginal rate.  The standard deduction will almost double for all filers.  In exchange for this increase, personal and dependent exemptions that were scheduled to be $4,150 per person for 2018 have been repealed.  Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemptions have also increased substantially.

Another notable change is the increase in the child tax credit from $1,100 to $2,000 ($1,400 is refundable).  The phase-out for eligibility of this credit has been significantly increased from $75,000 (single) and $110,000 (married) to $200,000 (single) and $400,000 (married).

Estate/Gift/Generation-Skipping Transfer tax exemptions have been doubled for individuals, now $11.2M per U.S. domiciliary.   This means a married couple would be able to transfer a combined $22.4M to beneficiaries before any estate tax would be assessed.

What does this mean for Connecticut residents, as well as other high-tax states?

The impact of the tax law change will affect all taxpayers differently.  For filers that previously had itemized deductions well above the standard deduction due to high property taxes, state income taxes and mortgage interest, there is a good chance that their tax bill will increase a bit.  This is due to more income being subject to taxation.  The overall tax rate may be lower but it may not be low enough to offset the lost deductions.  This may also affect households with many dependents, due to the loss of the personal and dependent exemptions, again causing more income to be subject to taxation.  However, for many filers that had utilized the standard deduction, they will likely see a decrease in their overall tax bill.  It is important that all taxpayers consult with their tax advisor in the New Year to adjust withholdings on income in 2018.

 

*This article is intended to be used for education purposes only. Please consult your Tax Professional to see how you will be affected.

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Trends & Tips

Cyber Monday: Shop Safely

shutterstock_418009015 [Converted]During your online shopping on Cyber Monday, you will likely land on one of the many online retail giant’s shopping sites.  Here are some tips for shopping safely online.

  1. Type the URL into the address bar. Instead of just clicking a link to take you to your chosen retailer’s website, it’s safer to type the retailer’s URL into the address bar on your web browser. It may take a little more effort, but this simple action can help to prevent you from visiting a fake or malicious website.
  2. Credit Cards. Use the safest way to pay on the Internet – pay for your order using a credit card.  The safest way to purchase items via the Internet is by credit card because you can often dispute the charges if something is wrong.
  3. Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel comfortable buying or bidding on an item over the web, or if you feel pressured to place your order immediately, maybe you shouldn’t.
  4. Make sure the Internet connection is secure. Don’t trust a site just because it claims to be secure.  Before you give your payment information, check for indicators that security software is in place.
  5. Be cautious when responding to special offers (especially through unsolicited e-mail).

For more tips on how to shop safely, click here.

Trends & Tips

Black Friday Shopping: Credit Cards or Debit Cards?

creditcardsDuring 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, you have potential vulnerability there.  Also included in the category are phone orders.
  • 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.

For more fraud protection tips, click here.