Thinking About Refinancing? 5 Reasons to Talk to Your Community Bank First

Now’s a good time to refinance.

You’ve probably seen plenty of ads, emails, and postcards reminding you of that. Many of them from mortgage lenders you’ve probably never even heard of, offering great rates and opportunities to help you save thousands of dollars.

And the truth is, refinancing can help you. It could help you lower your monthly payments, allow you to pay off your home sooner, and even get affordable cash to make home improvements and finance other expenses.

But refinancing is a big financial decision. And there’s a lot more to it than just finding the best interest rate. You need to find an experienced lender that will walk you through the process; a lender like your community bank, where you may have gotten your mortgage from in the first place.

Community banks like First Country Bank offer unique advantages, including:

  1. Trust. Today there are lot of “lenders” operating mortgage scams or companies that lure unsuspecting borrowers with low rates, only to surprise them with hidden fees. Why take the chance when you already know a trusted mortgage lender that will take the time to understand your goals and help you determine the options that work best for you?
  2. Personal service. What about if you need assistance during your mortgage process – or even after you close on the loan? With a community bank, you’ll work with people who know you and your community and are available to help.
  3. Competitive rates. Many community banks like First County Bank are mutual banks, which means they don’t have to pay dividends to stockholders, freeing them to offer customers competitive rates.
  4. An easier process. Working with a bank you already have a relationship with can also help make the mortgage process a little easier.
  5. Relationship benefits. There’s another benefit of refinancing with your bank – the opportunity to use your mortgage relationship to meet with a banker that can help with all your financial needs.

First County Bank is ready to help you refinance!

So, if you’re thinking about getting on the refinancing bandwagon, make a local mortgage lender you can trust like First County Bank your first stop. Chances are, the mortgage you need to reach your goals is right here – in your neighborhood.


5 Reasons to Work at a Community Bank in Connecticut

Ready for a fresh career start in 2022? Look no further than a community bank in Connecticut,  like First County Bank, which is invested in helping local people succeed.

If you’re looking for a rewarding position and a bright future, here are five reasons why you belong at First County Bank:

  1. A winning culture. People make all the difference – and we’re proud to have the best. Our talented team of friendly, skilled, and diverse individuals understands that we can accomplish great things when we work together.
  2. Rewarding benefits. From medical and dental insurance to 401(k)s and competitive compensation, we’re committed to supporting the health, wellbeing, and financial needs of our employees and their families.
  3. Opportunities to grow – and reach your career goals. Looking for more than just a job? We offer you career development opportunities, where you can build skills and experience, and achieve your fullest potential.
  4. Work/life balance. We get it. Work isn’t the only part of your life. It’s why we offer generous vacations plus bank holidays, to help you manage the joys and demands of life outside of work.
  5. A chance to do well – and do good. There’s nothing like knowing you’re helping others. And every day, you’ll have the opportunity to help people and families reach their financial goals. You can make a bigger impact through community outreach opportunities supporting local nonprofits.

Discover all the benefits of a great career where you belong – at First County Bank We’re hiring!
View our open positions today.


Safe Shopping Tips from the Better Business Bureau

Source: Better Business Bureau

The holidays are here and gift shopping is in full swing! Whether you are shopping in a store or from the comfort of your own home, ensuring the safety of your personal and financial information is important.

As you fill your carts, here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau you can follow to keep your financial information secure:

  • Beware of false advertising and phony websites. If you find an ad for an item that seems too good to be true, there is a chance that it’s fake. Check to make sure that the advertisements are from trusted retailers, that the websites use proper spelling, and have legitimate contact information.
  • Shop with trustworthy sellers on secure sites only. Looking to make a purchase, but the website seems off? Checking their business profile, reviews, and ensuring they use a secure web address are a few ways you can see if the site is trustworthy.
  • Keep your antivirus software up to date. Check your computer and mobile devices to ensure your antivirus software is up to date.
  • Price check before you buy. The best deal may not be a real one. By taking the time to research and compare prices, you can make sure the ad is not misleading and you snag the best deal.
  • Take advantage of rewards and loyalty programs. Check to see if your credit card has a rewards program and if so use those rewards towards your holiday purchases.
  • Use your credit card. By shopping with your credit card, you can report shady charges you find on your account.
  • Understand return policies. For some stores, their policies change for the holiday season, so it is important to read them before making your purchases. If you are giving an item as a gift, it is also a good idea to ask for a gift receipt in case the recipient needs to return the item.
  • Watch out for phishing scams. If you received a random letter or email stating you won a free item or there is a delivery issue with a purchase, check that it is from a trusted retailer before clicking the link. Keep an eye out for unsolicited emails, texts, calls, and letters as they may be phishing scams.

Check out more holiday shopping tips from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

If you think you have come across a scam, report it to the BBB ScamTracker.


5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Trust Community Banks in Connecticut

Trust matters in life – and in business. It certainly matters to small business owners when it comes to choosing their financial institutions. It’s why so many small businesses have awarded their business and their loyalty to local community banks.

Community banks like First County Bank offer unique advantages to business owners, including:

Local knowledge

It’s nice to know that your financial institution understands your marketplace, and that the people who work there actually know you and your community. That means they’re able to deliver a higher level of personal service and connect you to other business owners and advisors who can help you.

“Big Bank” business accounts & services

You don’t have to go to a big bank to get the services you need to manage your cash flow and grow your business. Community banks like First County Bank often offer a full range of deposit, lending, investing, and other services – right here in your backyard.

Local decision-making

If you need a loan for your business, community banks offer a very important advantage: access to local decision-makers who will take the time to get to know you and your business. That means you won’t have to go through layers and layers of approval and will get a fast decision – and access to the money you need.

Community support

Community banks were chartered to support local people and the communities where they live and work. That's why they’re deeply invested in helping support events, causes, non-profits, and businesses that make life better for others. Plus, they understand just how important your business is in helping build jobs and stabilizing the local economy.

Personal service

We all know how convenient banking electronically can be. But what if you need assistance with your accounts or managing a business challenge? With a community bank, you can come right inside and talk to us in person.

We’re here to help you – and your business – succeed, as your trusted advisor

We invite you to learn more about all the benefits of banking locally – right here at First County Bank –where you and your business always belong.


Man using online banking

7 Ways to Bank with a Community Bank in Connecticut

Man in a wheelchair using online bankingThere sure is something special about being where you belong – where people know your name and want to see you succeed. That’s the spirit of banking at First County Bank. Here, you’ll find friends and neighbors who are connected to you, your goals, and the community.

We also want you to feel connected to your finances. It’s why we offer innovative services to help you stay in touch with your money wherever you are, and friendly, helpful people who will support you when you need them.

We’re proud to offer you –

Online and mobile banking.

Wherever life takes you, you’re never far from your money. With our sophisticated online and mobile banking, you can view balances and transactions and do your routine banking – like transfers and bill payments – whenever it’s convenient for you. You can also set account alerts to make monitoring your accounts easy.

Mobile check deposit.

You’re busy. We get that. So, to save you a trip to the bank, we offer the convenience of mobile check deposit. It lets you deposit checks in a snap using your smartphone’s camera.

Surcharge-free ATM banking.

Need to access your cash without paying dearly for it? At First County Bank, you can make surcharge-free1 transactions at more than 43,000 ATMs in the United States and more than 12,000 international ATMs that are part of the Allpoint network.

Touchless payments.

For a clean, easy, and secure way to pay at the point of sale, we offer the convenience of touchless payments. Simply tap your card or smartphone with a mobile wallet near or on the card reader at participating merchants and be on your way. No swiping, dipping, or signing is required.

Zelle for sending money.

Need to send a gift of money to a family member? Pay your roommate your share of the rent? Or split the cost of dinner with your friends? With Zelle, you can securely send and request money from people simply by using their cellphone number or email.2

In-branch service.

If you need personal service, you’re always welcome to visit any one of our convenient locations. If you want, you can make an appointment to save time.

Phone support.

Need service on your accounts? Help to choose the right loan? Our knowledgeable professionals at the CustomerFirst Contact Center are ready to help. Just call 203.462.4400, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Connect with the Connecticut community bank that’s here for you!

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.

1First County Bank is a member of the Allpoint network, giving you access to more than 43,000 ATMs in the continental U.S. and certain areas internationally. Look for the green Allpoint logo on ATMs at major retailers such as Costco™, Walgreens™, CVS™, and Target™. There are no ATM transaction fees or surcharges when you use Allpoint member ATMs (within the continental U.S.) to access your First County Bank account. Other account fees apply.

 Must have a bank account in the U.S. to use Zelle.  In order to send payment requests or split payment requests to a U.S. mobile number, the mobile number must already be enrolled with Zelle.

Zelle and the Zelle-related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.


family of four having fun with moving boxes in home

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!

family of four having fun with moving boxes in homeCommunity 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.

Everyday 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.