Someone Is Watching and Waiting

I created this blog, as a source to turn to when you need basic financial advice-and here’s something I definitely think you should be on the look out for-identity theft. As rapidly as technology is changing these days, there seems to always be some “techie guy or hacker” out there who can keep up with the pace, and is looking to score your personal info.

If you get bombarded with credit card offers in the mail-my advice, shred them-a theif can sift through your trash-fish it out and sign up AS YOU! Pretty soon, you’ll see random charges will pop up all over the place. Think it can’t happen to you-think again. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen fraudulent activity on a member’s card. Even one of our own Hopewell staff members has been a victim.

The way I see it, shredders are pretty affordable these days. I’ve even seen them at discount stores, as inexpensive as $12-$15 dollars. A small price to pay to save your identity. And countless hours of paperwork and possibly even years of trying to clear your good name and credit.

Also, no matter where you do your banking, if you’re having a problem with your account and want assistance via e-mail, just leave your name and number. Don’t put your personal account information out there for everyone to see. It only makes you more susceptible to identity theft. Just my thoughts.  Feel free to comment!

Hi Rudy,

This is a good question. It is very easy to damage ones credit but much harder to repair the damage. What’s the best way to start? I would recommended that you open a saving account and start saving first. After you have accumulated $500 to $1000 ask the financial institution to grant you a loan secured by the savings. You will get the loan and then start making monthly payments until it is paid in full. Remember, the savings will not be available to you during this time. You are in a sense borrowing your own money. If you make the payments on time every time, you will build one good credit line on your credit report. After you’ve been paying on this for several months, you might apply for a department store credit card which will have a small limit. Again use the card but pay the balance in full every month. Again doing this for ten to twelve months with help rebuild your credit.

Another option you might try is getting someone to guarantee a loan for you. If you don’t repay, the one guaranteeing the loan will be asked to pay. Again paying this loan on time every time will help rebuild your credit.

I wish I could tell you there is a quick fix to rebuilding credit but there is not. It takes time and patience to get the job done.

That’s my take on it.


Social Media & Credit Unions

Well, we’ve been up for one week, and while the responses so far have been mild-I’m  hoping they’ll grow, as they say, persistence pays off. I completely understand that the concept of social media, especially for financial institutions is a new medium, but one that is growing daily.

 Obviously, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started this blog, but I’m hopeful that the credit union philosophy of “people helping people,” will allow us to build a community of people who are seeking genuine advice about their finances.

So with that in mind, again, don’t be shy – we can’t track you down and bombard you with information about our products and services, nor do we want to. If you want to know more about us, visit our website. However, if you have a genuine need for financial advice, feel free to drop me a line, I’m here to help.



Hi Amy,

I think payday lenders should be used only if it’s the last resort and only if the loan can be repaid when due without extending it. There are many options to payday lending. You might apply for an overdraft line of credit for your checking account. The transactions free and interest rate for these are very reasonable and allows payback over time if needed.

You might also try taking a cash advance on a credit card, again it would be less costly but try to repay it on payday.

I see too many people getting caught up in the payday lending cycle and it’s really hard to break it. See your financial institution if you feel you need help.


Hi Chris

First off, at a credit union you’re a member/owner not a customer. That’s the big difference between a bank and a credit union. We work for the financial benefit of members and don’t concentrate on how much money we can make off you to pay to stockholders. Sure we need to make enough money to pay salaries and the light bill but not to line the pockets of stockholders. The credit union motto is Not for Profit, Not for Charity but for Service.

As a member owned and focused financial institution, credit union’s normally pay more in interest on deposits, charge less interest on loans, and even though we have fees they are usually much less that at banks. Many consumer advisors recommend that if you’re tired of dealing with a bank, try locating a credit union you can join and most likely there is one.

And since credit unions are financial cooperatives we cooperate with each other so we don’t have to re-invent the wheel, so to speak. As an example, many credit unions participate in a shared branching network. This gives the members of those credit unions access to branches all over the country A member of credit union A can go to credit union B to transact his teller assisted transactions. You won’t find the banker sending you to another bank.

Thanks for the question.

Ask Al

Hello and welcome to Hopewell Federal Credit Union’s blog – Ask Al.  That’s me, Al Smith, President and CEO of Hopewell Federal Credit Union, located in Newark and Heath, Ohio. This blog is a completely new adventure for us, but one that I hope you will find worthwhile.

At Hopewell Federal, we like to say we’re delivering personalized banking solutions. While that’s true, I figure it’s better to walk the talk, so to speak-thus, we’ve hopped on board the blogging bandwagon.

In a nutshell, my goal for Ask Al, is to encourage anyone with financial concerns or questions, to drop me a line. Members, non-members, it doesn’t matter, we want to help you.  Now, I can’t promise that I have all the answers but with more than 40+ years in the credit union industry, I’d like to think that I’ve picked up a thing or two, during my tenure. Here’s just a couple of examples of questions that we receive on a weekly basis here at our offices:

“What’s the difference between a bank and a credit union?”

“Do I have to work at a certain company to join a credit union?”

“I’m in my mid-30’s and saved nothing for retirement, how do I get started?”

“I’m in major debt from college loans, how do I dig out from under?”

“What’s the best way to save money?”

“What’s the difference between a re-fi and a HELOC?”

You name it, we’ve probably heard it. And with an industry cluttered with offers and options left and right, sometimes it’s hard to navigate the best way to go. So, we thought the blog option, might be a good way to help those who are seeking financial advice. 

Since our blog is brand new, we will be moderating all comments that we receive. So they will be read before they are posted. As they say, we like to keep it clean … However, as long as they pertain to our goal of seeking financial advice, they will be posted in their entirety.

I also strongly encourage, those who are NEW to blogging and to our current members, that this is NOT a forum to post that you can’t access your account or having trouble logging on-line or anything of that nature, for those concerns please e-mail Also, please, please do not post any personal information on this blog, you never know who’s out there and may be interested in stealing your identity.

 And as I said, I don’t have all the answers. So, from time to time, someone on our staff may respond to your questions as well. We’ll introduce you to them and include their picture and what they do here at Hopewell Federal, should they be the one to respond.

So, without further a do, we’d love to hear from you.  If you’re working all the time, and have financial concerns that have been nagging away at you, but you just haven’t had the opportunity to ask them, this is the place. So, go ahead and Ask Al! I’m looking forward to hearing from you!