First County Bank Profile

#FridaysinFairfield: Meet Ben Peter

bp-ffMeet Benedict Peter, Branch Manager at the new Fairfield Branch located at 1312 Post Road in our first edition of #FridaysinFairfield.

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Benedict Peter. I currently live in East Norwalk with my family. I have two kids Isabella and William and enjoy spending time with them. In my spare time I play soccer, cricket and enjoy taking long walks at the beach.  I have been with First County Bank since December 2017. I am excited to be at the Fairfield Branch and excited to have a great team to help serve our customers and our community with their financial needs.

What separates First County Bank from other Banks?
The biggest thing that separates First County Bank from other Banks is that we are a mutual community bank. This means that we do not have to report to shareholders. Instead we can focus on our customers, our community and our employees.

What excites you the most about the new Fairfield Branch?
I am excited that we have expanded our footprint and are able to serve our customers and community.

What’s something someone may not know about First County Bank?
Our Foundation was established in 2001 and contributes generously to nonprofit organizations that support community and economic development.  Since 2001 we have given over 1,000 individual grants worth over $8.2 million.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
My favorite First County moment was the first day of work. Everyone was so helpful and friendly that I immediately felt part of the family.

Lifestyle Trends & Tips

Don’t let someone break your heart or wallet this Valentine’s Day

datingscamEverything is accessible online these days – maybe even your true love. With millions of people turning to the internet, social media networks and dating websites have become increasingly popular tools for meeting and communicating.

Unfortunately, fraudsters have capitalized on this trend and often create fake profiles to lure in victims, establish romantic relationships and eventually, extort money.

According to the FBI, over $220 million was lost in 2016 to online romance scam artists. Older Americans in particular have been targeted by this type of scam.

While online dating can open doors to loving, happy relationships, there are more and more reports of criminals using these platforms to take advantage of unsuspecting users. Approach these relationships with caution so you don’t end up with a broken heart and an empty wallet.

If you’re concerned that you or a loved one are being scammed, we recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Slow down – and talk to someone you trust. Don’t let a scammer rush you.
  • Never wire money, put money on a gift or cash reload card, or send cash to an online love interest. You won’t get it back.
  • Contact your bank right away if you think you’ve sent money to a scammer.
  • Report your experience to:
    • The online dating site
    • FTC
    • FBI

To learn more about online dating scams, view the ABA Foundation and FTC’s infographic.

First County Bank Profile

#FridaysinFairfield: Meet the Staff

Pictured (Left to Right): Anna Zaremba, Teller Supervisor; Haidei Bolnos, Teller; Ben Peter, Branch Manager; Illiana Nikolova, Assistant Branch Manager.

Pictured (Left to Right): Anna Zaremba, Teller Supervisor; Haidei Bolanos, Teller; Ben Peter, Branch Manager; Illiana Nikolova, Assistant Branch Manager.

The move to Fairfield is not only an exciting moment for the Bank, but a confirmation of our commitment to the area of Fairfield County. For over 165 years, we have worked closely with our customers to deliver personalized banking solutions to fit their needs. None of this would be possible without a committed team of individuals who believe in what it means to be a mutual, community bank.

The Fairfield Branch will be no different. The Fairfield Branch opening brings seasoned First County Bank veterans and new faces to the branch, who all share the common commitment of what it means to work at First County Bank.

We’re excited to kick off a new social media series called, #FridaysinFairfield where we’ll give you a chance to meet and get to know the great members of our newest staff, located at 1312 Post Road, Fairfield, CT.

Bank News

Fairfield Branch: Open for Business

IMG_5845We are proud to announce that our newest branch located at 1312 Post Road in Fairfield, CT is officially open for business. The new branch is located in downtown Fairfield, diagonally across from the Fairfield Library, steps away from the train station, and it provides plenty of on-site parking.

The new Fairfield branch offers a full-service team of bankers. The branch is led by the newest member of First County Bank, Benedict “Ben” Peter. Also on site are bankers specializing in business banking and residential lending.  Investment and trust services are also available, provided by First County Advisors, the Wealth Management Division of First County Bank.

Next time you’re in the area be sure to stop by, say hello and check out our new Branch and specials being offered in the town of Fairfield.

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.

Bank News

First County Bank Welcomes New Commercial Lender

Brad LupinacciWe are pleased to announce the recent hiring of Brad Lupinacci, who joins the Bank’s Commercial Banking Division as vice president, commercial banking officer. First County Bank’s addition of Lupinacci demonstrates the Bank’s commitment to further meet the needs of its commercial customers and the business community.

“Brad will be originating and building commercial relationships for the Bank. He is a Stamford native with over 13 years in business banking and has developed an extensive network in the community. He will be a strong contributor to the Bank’s commercial lending team.” said Reyno Giallongo, First County Bank’s chairman and CEO.

Prior to joining First County Bank, Brad held commercial lending and relationship management positions focused on the lower Fairfield County market. Lupinacci has expertise with Commercial and Industrial, Small Business Administration and Commercial Real Estate lending.

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.

Bank News, In Our Community

First County Bank Announces Expansion Into the Town of Fairfield

We are proud to announce we are expanding our footprint and opening a full service branch in the Town of Fairfield. This will allow the bank to provide more convenient full-service banking services to its customers within Lower Fairfield County. The new First County Bank branch is located in downtown Fairfield at 1312 Post Road, diagonally across from the Fairfield Library, steps away from the train station, and it provides plenty of on-site parking. It will be open for business in early February, after some renovations are completed.

Benedict "Ben" Peter, Branch Manager

Benedict “Ben” Peter, Branch Manager

“First County Bank is excited to bring our community banking to the Town of Fairfield,” said Reyno A. Giallongo, Jr., chairman and CEO of First County Bank. “This expansion provides more convenient local banking to our customers in Fairfield and surrounding communities. We have been delivering personalized banking services to Fairfield County customers for over 165 years, and expanding our footprint into Fairfield confirms our commitment to this area. We are conveniently located in the heart of town, close to the train station.”

The new Fairfield branch will offer a full-service team of bankers.  The retail branch staff will be led by Benedict “Ben” Peter, as branch manager and Iliana Nikolova, as assistant branch manager.  Also on site will be bankers specializing in business banking and residential lending.  Investment and trust services will be provided by First County Advisors, the wealth management division of First County Bank.

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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