Why Bank with a Community Bank in Connecticut

Count the Reasons at First County Bank
Think all banks in Connecticut are the same? Think again!

Community banks like First County Bank are here to ensure individuals, families, businesses, and all members of our great community prosper. But we’re also not just any community bank in CT – we’re a mutual bank with no shareholders. That means our team has the freedom to always do what’s in the best interest of our customers and communities.

Every day community banks in CT work to –

  1. Make our communities stronger.
    At First County Bank, we’ve been a part of the community for more than 170 years. That’s why you’ll see us at local events and supporting the causes and programs that matter most. And through the First County Bank Foundation we’ve provided financial support to nonprofit organizations in Fairfield County that work to make life better for you, your family, and the community. Since we started our Foundation more than 20 years ago, we’ve awarded more than $10 million in grants to assist with a wide range of locally-based causes.
  2. Support local businesses.
    If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the value of small businesses to our local economies. At First County Bank, we’ve valued businesses since we opened our doors. That’s why we offer a full range of business checking products and services and business financing to help local businesses grow. We were also proud to provide loans as part of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) assisting businesses impacted by the pandemic.
  1. Help build homeownership dreams.
    As a community lender, we know that homeownership makes our neighborhoods stronger. That’s why we offer a wide range of mortgage programs to help local people achieve their homeownership dreams. We not only offer guidance every step of the way and great mortgage rates but make loan decisions right here, saving you time. Equal Housing Lender.
  1. Close to where you live, work or play.
    We’re your neighbor. That means when you need assistance, you can stop into one of our convenient branches to get personal service from people who know you and your community. Can’t make it to a branch? You can also receive support through our CustomerFirst Call Center.
  1. Offer rewarding rates.
    Our mutual charter allows us to do right by our customers and offer rewarding rates. We offer great rates on consumer loans and deposits and have some of the most competitive mortgage rates in Connecticut to help our customers achieve their goals.

Bank where you, your neighbors, and your community belong.
If you’re looking for a great community bank in Connecticut, we invite you to discover all the benefits of banking right here at First County Bank where you, your dreams, and your financial goals belong.

Member FDIC

Beware of card skimmers

As more of us hit the road, enjoying the freedom and adventure of summer travel, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is encouraging drivers to be on the lookout for card skimming scams at the gas pump.

Card skimmers are devices, illegally attached to payment terminals, which steal information off a credit or debit card’s magnetic strip. This data can either be sold or used, to purchase items online without your knowledge (at least until you receive your statement).

To learn more, or to find out how to identify a card skimmer, visit the FTC website.

Beware of New Amazon Scam!

As part of First County Bank’s commitment to protecting you from fraud, we wanted you to be aware of a new scam aimed at customers who may do business with Amazon. The scam, which often targets senior citizens, has typically involved the following:

  1. You receive an email or phone call from what appears to be Amazon, requesting that you purchase fraud protection or a computer service.
  2. If you proceed with purchasing the protection, the fraudster will then tell you that they are going to take remote access of your computer for your protection.
  3. Once they do, you’ll be asked to log in to your Amazon account to either facilitate a payment for something you “ordered” or to claim money that is “owed” to you from a previous purchase.
  4. Once you log in, the fraudster will have access to your Amazon account and payment data, as well as all information on your computer.

If you receive a request such as this, DO NOT respond or click on any suspicious emails. If you are concerned about an Amazon purchase, log on to the Amazon site directly.

Other ways to protect yourself from fraud
Due to frequent, ever-changing fraud scams, we encourage you to take these additional steps to protect yourself:

  • Change your online account passwords regularly.
  • Run antivirus software on your computers.
  • Download the latest software updates on all your devices.
  • Set account alerts in Online and Mobile Banking to help you monitor your accounts.
  • Never click on suspicious emails you receive.
  • Stay informed about the latest fraud scams by visiting usa.gov/common-scams-frauds.
  • Review these tips to determine if an email, phone call, text message, or webpage is not from Amazon.com.

Also, remember that First County Bank will NEVER call you or send you an email requesting your account or personal information (Social Security number, date of birth, etc.). For more information on ways to protect yourself, visit firstcountybank.com/your-security/.

3 Easy Ways to Help Local Businesses

From the antiques shop to the corner convenience store to the neighborhood deli, local businesses make our communities unique, bring people together, and of course, power our local economies. But as we all know, the challenges over the past year have made it extraordinarily challenging for these businesses to keep their doors open.

First County Bank is committed to helping local businesses not just get back on their feet in 2021, but prosper. In order to do that, though, we need your help. Here are some ways you, your family, and your friends can make a big difference to a small business owner:

  1. Write a Review. For a great way to help that doesn’t cost a thing, consider writing a review. Reviews shared on Yelp, Facebook, or Google My Business have become invaluable tools in helping businesses attract new customers, establish credibility, and show up in online searches. So if you’ve had a great experience with a business, take a moment to post about it. You’d be surprised by how many people read reviews before making purchasing decisions.
  2. Order directly from restaurants. With social distancing requirements and safety concerns, many of us are ordering out – and using convenient meal delivery services. But now that things have started to open up and businesses have established clean and safe practices, you may want to consider ordering your food and picking it up directly with the restaurant versus using a delivery service. By doing so, you’ll help restaurants save money, since those delivery services can take up a significant portion of profits.
  3. Purchase gift cards. With restrictions still in place, most small businesses are not operating at full capacity, damaging their cash flow. One way you can help boost it back is to purchase gift cards from your favorite places.

Help a small business today by taking these simple steps. It’s a win for the business, the community – and for us all.

Beware of United States Postal Service (USPS) “Delivery on Hold” Scam

Online scammers are always looking for new ways to defraud unsuspecting victims. Now, they’ve got a new one: the fake USPS delivery-on-hold scam. The scam involves fraudsters emailing what appears to be an official notice from the USPS informing you that they have a package on hold that can’t be delivered due to insufficient address. You are then asked to provide your credit card information to “re-deliver” your package, and then to “verify your identity” by entering your Social Security number and date of birth.

Be advised that the USPS does not send out any such notices. So, if you should receive an email like this, delete it immediately.

Read more about the delivery on hold scam.

Smart ways to protect yourself from fraud
As a reminder, here are some other ways you can protect yourself from fraud:

  • Never open suspicious emails or click on links from senders you do not know.
  • If you are unsure about an email you receive, do some research on the sender before opening.
  • Run anti-virus software and download software updates.
  • Choose strong passwords and update them regularly.
  • Set alerts to notify you about debit or credit card transactions.
  • Check your credit report regularly.

Also, as a reminder, First County Bank will never send you an email asking for your account number, Social Security number, or passwords.

Beware of card fraud

Fraudsters are becoming increasingly good at stealing cardholder information in order to commit fraud. Often fraudsters will pose as a financial institution over the phone. They can even spoof the caller ID so the call seems legitimate. They also send text messages that appear to be from a financial institution warning of suspicious transaction activities. Scammers also sometimes call into call centers and pose as cardholders and request changes to their card or account information.

Scammers use information stolen through data breaches such as credit bureaus, rewards programs, and social media in order to combine personally identifiable information and stolen card information in order to appear as the actual person.

Here are several important things to know to protect yourself from fraud:

  • If you receive a text alert from First County Bank warning of suspicious activity on your card, it will never include a link to be clicked. Never click on a link in a text message that is supposedly from First County Bank.
  • Text alerts will always come from a 5-digit number, not a 10-digit number.
  • A phone call from First County Bank’s automated dialer will only include a request for a cardholder’s zip code, and no other personal information unless they confirm that a transaction is fraudulent. Only then will they be transferred to an agent who will ask questions to confirm their identity before going through their transactions.
  • First County Bank will NEVER ask for the PIN or the 3-digit security code on the back of a card.
  • Fraudsters, posing as call center agents, will often ask cardholders to verify fake transactions. When the cardholder says no, they did not perform those transactions, the fraudster then says that their card will be blocked, a new card will be issued, and that they need the card’s PIN to put on the new card. Many people believe this and provide their PIN.
  • It is important to regularly check your account(s) online for suspicious transactions, but especially if you are unsure about a call or text message you’ve received. If anything looks amiss, contact the Bank directly for assistance.
  • If you receive a voice or a text message from FirstCounty Bank and are unsure about responding to it, call the Bank directly for assistance.

If you think you have been a victim of fraud contact the Bank immediately.

Be on the lookout for tax refund scams

When you file your taxes this year, be sure to be on the lookout for tax refund scams. Refund scams are when someone else has already filed a tax return under your identity so they can collect your refund before you do. Unfortunately, tax refund scams are on the rise because all scammers need to file on your behalf are your name, Social Security number and date of birth.

Scammers may obtain this information through phishing emails (emails that look legitimate, but in fact are designed to steal your personal information), phone calls or social media communication where they impersonate an agent from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Some of the signs of tax refund scams are when you go to file your tax return and it won’t go through or you expect a refund but it doesn’t arrive. You may also receive a letter from the IRS explaining that multiple returns were submitted in your name.

The best way to avoid these types of scams is to file your taxes as soon as possible. It is also crucial to protect your personal information.

Luckily the IRS is doing everything they can to eliminate fraud and they also do not hold the taxpayer liable for the missing refund. They will eventually send you the money you are owed. For more information on filing your taxes and avoiding tax fraud, visit the Internal Revenue Service’s website at irs.gov.

Beware of package scams

Recently there have been reports of package scams where a person receives a message that looks like it’s from a legitimate parcel service like UPS, FedEx, or even the United States Postal Service (USPS), but in reality, it’s a scam designed to steal your personal information.

These fraudulent messages typically arrive via email or text message. The messages may look authentic by using official titles, a logo, or branding that looks very similar to the real thing. The message may claim to need additional information in order to deliver a package and the recipient may be asked to click a hyperlink that could install infectious malware on their device, or it may ask for personal information like a Social Security number, address, or bank account information.

Legitimate parcel services will not request personal information, financial information, account numbers, IDs, passwords, or other personal information. If you receive a message that asks for these details, it’s a scam.

If you receive a suspicious message, you should report it to the actual organization immediately. You can also report the email or phone number through your service provider. If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, contact local law enforcement and then report it to your financial institutions. You may want to consider freezing your credit by calling the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).

Scammers cash in on COVID-19 vaccination confusion

Source: Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Information

With every passing day, the news on COVID-19 vaccine distribution seems to change. One reason is that distribution varies by state and territory. And scammers, always at the ready, are taking advantage of the confusion. Besides a big dose of patience, here are some tips to help you avoid a vaccine-related scam, no matter where you live:

  • Contact a trusted source for information. Check with state or local health departments to learn when and how to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You can also talk with your health care provider or pharmacist.
  • Don’t pay to sign up for the vaccine. Anyone who asks for a payment to put you on a list, make an appointment for you, or reserve a spot in line is a scammer.
  • Ignore sales ads for the COVID-19 vaccine. You can’t buy it – anywhere. The vaccine is only available at federal- and state-approved locations.
  • Watch for unexpected or unusual texts. If your health care provider or pharmacist has used text messages to contact you in the past, you might get a text from them about the vaccine. If you get a text, call your health care provider or pharmacist directly to make sure they sent the text. But scammers are texting, too. So don’t click on links in text messages – especially messages you didn’t expect.
  • Don’t open emails, attachments, or links from people you don’t know, or that come unexpectedly. You could download dangerous malware onto your computer or phone.
  • Don’t share your personal, financial, or health informationwith people you don’t know. No one from a vaccine distribution site, health care provider’s office, pharmacy, or health care payer, like a private insurance company or Medicare, will call, text, or email you asking for your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number to sign you up to get the vaccine.

Stay connected to stay informed. Subscribe to consumer alerts from the FTC. When you do, you’ll get updates delivered right to your email inbox.

If you know about a COVID-19 vaccine scam, let the FTC know at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Or, file a complaint with your state or territory attorney general through consumerresources.org, the consumer website of the National Association of Attorneys General.

Build your savings while earning chances to win $1,000!

Saving money can be a challenge, but it is important to work towards a savings goal to help set you up for future success. That’s why we like to incentivize savings. With the FirstPrize $avings account from First County Bank, you will be entered to win $1,000 when you deposit money to your savings account. Each month a deposit of at least $25, up to 10 deposits counts as an entry to win.

You’ll also earn competitive rates, without any maintenance fees. To learn more, or apply to open an account, visit our website. 

Start planning for your future with an IRA

IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account and there are several types of IRAs. At First County Bank, we offer Individual IRAs and Self-Employed SEP-IRAs.

Traditional IRA
A Traditional IRA is an investment account that allows you to save money for retirement and receive a tax advantage. IRAs are beneficial because a 401(k), pension, or other account may not provide enough retirement income on their own. An IRA account gives you additional flexibility because you can save more money, save on taxes, and access investment options that you may not receive through an account with your employer. IRAs have contributions limits that depend on your income. There are also withdrawal rules where you may face a 10% penalty if you withdraw the money before age 59 ½.

Self-Employed SEP-IRA
SEP IRAs are ideal for self-employed people or small-business owners with few or no employees. Similar to traditional IRAs, the contributions are tax-deductible, but once you retire, the distributions are taxed as income. There are contributions limits and SEP IRAs may require proportional contributions for employees.

For more information, contact us or visit a First County Bank location to open an IRA and begin saving for retirement today!  For information on taxes, consult a tax advisor.

Website Wednesday – Mortgage Center

You’ve dreamed, plotted, and planned and now you’re finally ready to take the first step toward buying a home – but where should you begin?

Our new website has a new, streamlined mortgage center to make it easier than ever to learn about the home-buying process. Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or an old pro, we have resources to help you navigate the process. 

You’ll be able to calculate your potential mortgage payment, meet the members of our team, view a glossary of commonly used terms, and more. All you have to worry about is choosing the right paint color for your new pad. 

For resources, rates, and more, turn the key and open up our brand new mortgage center.