Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hard of Hearing?

Is the ringer on your telephone just not loud enough?

We have people stop by our office occasionally seeking a telephone that can be “turned up.” If this is you or someone else in your household, please keep reading.

ITAC (Illinois Telecommunications Access Corporation) is the not-for-profit corporation established to provide a Free Equipment Program and Illinois Relay on behalf of landline and most cable and VoIP companies. Hamilton County Telephone participates in this program so our customers can take advantage of this wonderful benefit.

The three requirements to be eligible for free equipment include:
            1)   Be a legal resident of Illinois
            2)    Have a working landline/cable/VoIP telephone service
            3)    Have application signed by your doctor, audiologist, speech language 
                  pathologist, designated DHS/DRS counselor

There are two equipment programs you can apply for:

            1)    Voucher – Equipment Program
                  You own the equipment under ITAC’s Voucher Program and YOU are 
                   responsible for it’s upkeep and maintenance. They have five different 
                   amplified phones to choose from and are designed for individuals that 
                   have difficulty using a standard telephone. Click on each picture to 
                   learn more about its features. All equipment in the Voucher Program 
                   has a 4-year warranty.

            2)    Loan – Equipment Program
                  Under this program, ITAC owns and provides normal upkeep of the 
                  equipment. The Loan Program covers repair and exchange services for 
                  normal “wear and tear,” however any damage of equipment deemed to 
                  be abuse or neglect by the client will be charged to the client.

*Both of these programs offer TTY equipment, specifically designed for deaf or speech disabled individuals that cannot use a standard telephone.

To apply for this program, you can go online: or call/visit any of the locations below in our region.

Opportunities for Access                          
(Satellite Office)                                            
1725 College Avenue                               
Carmi, IL 62821                                       
Closed 4th Tuesdays                               
618-382-7300 V/TTY  
618-382-7301 Fax

Southern Illinois CIL    
(Satellite Office)
32 Veterans Drive   
Harrisburg, IL 62946
618-252-7233 V/TTY
618-252-7884 Fax

MT. VERNON                                       
Opportunities for Access                        
4206 Williamson Place, Ste 3                  
MT. Vernon, IL 62864                                                                  
618-244-9212 Voice/TTY                                                                 
618-244-9310 Fax                                    
Closed 4th Tues. each Month

Senior Service of Jefferson County
409 Harrison
Mt. Vernon, IL  62864
618-242-3530 Voice
618-242-9212 Fax

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In April 2014, after 12 years on the market, Microsoft completely discontinued their security updates and technical support for the Windows XP operating system. This was a move by Microsoft to force users into moving to Windows 7 or newer. WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO YOU? Over time, XP will develop security flaws and cracks that cyber criminals are sure to exploit. In addition, a growing number of apps and devices will not work with XP.

What can you do to protect yourself? First, check with your security provider, whatever company you are currently using for protection against viruses, malware and spam, to confirm whether or not their programs still protect you. For those of you who subscribe to SecureIT Plus, you should have received a letter notifying you that as of June 30, they will no longer be able to support or guarantee protection for anyone still on Windows XP. To stay protected going forward, you should consider either upgrading your operating system to Windows 8.1 or purchasing a new PC with a new operating system. Please keep in mind, some older computers may not be able to handle upgrading to the latest Windows version 8.1.

We recommend that you download and run the Windows Upgrade Assistant ( to check if your PC meets the system requirements for Windows 8.1. If it does, you can follow the steps in the tutorial to upgrade if your PC is able.  If your current PC can’t run Windows 8.1, it might be time to consider shopping for a new one.

As your internet provider, we want to make sure we are keeping you up on the latest technology news. If you have XP and SecureIT Plus, please contact us about your options.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Attention all Email Users:

New Virus - Package Delivery Failure

The latest virus circulating has been dubbed the "UPS/Fed Ex/USPS Delivery Failure."
You may receive an email from UPS, FedEx or USPS, along with a package number. It will say that they were unable to deliver a package sent to you on a specific date.

It will then ask you to print out the invoice copy or label attached. DO NOT try to print this as it will launch the virus on your device.

We have had this scam reported to us, as well as, verified it on (Package Delivery Virus).
It appears that this virus has been circulating for a few years, but has recently been more active in our area and with all the holiday shopping and shipping quickly approaching, we wanted to make sure that our users are aware of this danger.

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Computer Scams

Technology has become a part of almost every facet of our lives. It’s the way we do business, keep in touch with friends and family, and even play games. As the devices around us continue to grow and improve exponentially, those who are less inclined can often find themselves in uncomfortable situations.

Recently, and over the past few months, we’ve spoken with a number of home users who say they’ve received a call from “Microsoft” or a “Microsoft Partner”. Typically the caller will state that the user’s computer seems to be sending a signal back to Microsoft that indicates a virus. They may also call and tell the user that the PC has already been infected or needs to have its current anti-virus software updated. In extreme cases, with the user on the phone, these scammers will begin remotely logging into the computer and install bogus software to help sell their story or service even more. Some calls have even gone as far as a user being locked out of their own PC because they refused to pay for a service they did not authorize or need. If you fall into the later of these, then please alert your financial institutions immediately.

Chances are, you or someone you know may have been the victim of this type of scam. It’s important to know that these scammers are after your personal and financial information. You should be especially cautious if you conduct any online banking or monetary transactions on your computer. However, there are ways to protect yourself from these attacks.

First, understand that Microsoft nor any of its affiliates will ever call you. These companies have dedicated support lines for you to call for help. If you ever receive a call claiming to be from Microsoft, simply hang up the phone, chances are they will move on and not call you back.
Second, have an up to date anti-virus or internet security protection software on your personal computer to help prevent these types of unauthorized intrusions and protect your financial information.

Finally, and perhaps the most important, is to always exercise caution when clicking links or installing programs on your PC. Some of these callers gain access to your information by first “phishing for it.” Once they have some basic information, they can then solicit you for a more targeted attack.

In this day and age, everyone is at risk, but those who may not be as familiar with all the corners of the World Wide Web and this quickly advancing technology are more at risk. Just remember, no one is ever going to call you and ask for information or passwords to your most precious accounts.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Driving While Intexticated 

Driving while intexticated is becoming a regular thing now a days. Adults and teens are getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and texting while driving. Some people don’t think that texting and driving is a problem. 

Here are some statistics that might change your mind:
77% of young adults are confident that they can text and drive safely. But yet, when people text and drive they take their eyes off the road for a minimum of five seconds. If the car was traveling at 55 mph, then the driver of the car was not looking at the road for a length of an entire football field. Teens who text while driving spend 10% of their driving time outside of their line and that makes a crash 23 times more likely to happen.

So what is the government doing to curb the temptation to text and drive? In Illinois, it is illegal to talk on cell phones while driving and it’s also illegal to text while driving. The fine for texting or talking on a cell phone while driving starts at $75 and goes up $25 dollars for each offense.

Parents need to take the first step by leading by example and not texting and driving.  Be safe and just pull over off the road to read or send that text message.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Is Your Password Strong Enough?

Almost every day we get calls from customers who get “hacked.” That’s right, they lose control of an account or sometimes their entire computers to a hacker (someone who spends all their time trying to figure out your password so they can steal or copy your information).
Hackers and their malicious software continue to get smarter about how they creep into your computer. Some malicious software can obtain personal information like usernames, passwords and other information without your permission. Microsoft Windows gives some tips to making it harder for hackers to capture your passwords by making passwords stronger.

Make your password at least eight characters long.

- Do not make any portion of your password the same as any portion of your username. 

-Don’t create a password with your name in it, your child’s name, or your pet’s name.

-Create a password that doesn’t have a complete word in it.

-Never use the same password twice.

- Use a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
Having trouble remembering your password? Just be cautious if you have to write it down. Try not to label it as “password” and keep it in a safe spot. If you have several passwords to manage and strive to be paperless, there are some great free apps on the internet for password management. Just remember, the more difficult a password is for you to remember, the more difficult it will be for a hacker to figure out. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fishing or Phishing?

Fishing or Phishing?  Which one should you avoid?

Now, we all know what Fishing is. Imagine sitting along the bank of a river, pond, lake, or hanging out on a boat. Spending your time just waiting for something to bite and get caught on your hook. All this, so you can take it home, enjoy the fruits of your patience and enjoy a nice meal of bass, crappie or whatever kind you fish for. 
Well now, let’s talk…Phishing! Phishing is the art of spammers and scammers, trying to trick you into giving up your personal or financial information. So, phishing is kind of like fishing. A scammer/spammer is just waiting for someone to bite on their email and reply with whatever information they are seeking.

So please be sure to AVOID Phishing!

  • Phishing is a common method of online identity theft and virus spreading.
  • Phishing is a fraudulent attempt, usually made through email, to steal your personal information.
  • Phishing emails usually appear to come from a well-known or legitimate organization and ask for your personal information:
    • credit card number
    • social security number
    • account number
    • passwords