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Beware Facebook support scammers

Q: Why doesn’t Facebook have its telephone-support number listed on its website? I often have questions about using the site.

A: Facebook does not list a telephone number for technical support because Facebook does not offer technical support over the phone. However, if you search the web for a Facebook tech hotline, you will find plenty of phone numbers on the results page — and most of them are scams.

Dialing one of these so-called “Facebook support” numbers can get you on the line with a con artist (often working in an overseas call center) who may make all sorts of claims about your account security or general computer health. Many promise to fix the problem in exchange for payment — sometimes in the form of iTunes gift-card numbers, which are used as currency in shadier parts of the internet. Because you have inadvertently supplied your phone number, failing to supply payment can lead to a barrage of harassing calls claiming that your Facebook account is becoming further compromised.

If you need assistance with your Facebook account, the company’s main resource is its online Help Center, which consists of frequently asked questions pages on common topics, like managing your friends list, reporting abuse and keeping your account secure from intruders. You can report problems with your account by submitting a form on the site. The Help Center area also has community discussion forums, where you can post specific questions and get advice and (hopefully) answers from other Facebook users.

Many free social-media services (including Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter) send users to their online help guides in lieu of telephone-based support and Facebook is not the only company attracting its share of scammers hoping to capitalize on the situation. If you think a company may have live customer-service representatives to contact, check for a number directly on its site instead of searching the web — but make sure the listed number is actually for technical support and not for the general corporate switchboard.

If you find technical support works better for you with human interaction, consider hiring a personal computer trainer (Angie’s List and Thumbtack are two possible sources for finding help locally) or asking for help in a nearby computer shop. Friends and family can be another source of help.

As for internet-based fraud that targets unsuspecting users, the Federal Trade Commission’s website at https://www.ftc.gov/ keeps a running list of scams to avoid. On the site, you can also sign up to get scam alerts by email.

Retrieving Lost Icons

Q: In my web browser, icons (for changing the text size and adding bold type to new messages I’m writing) at the bottom of my Gmail window have disappeared. How do I get them back?

A: When you have a New Message window open in your browser, click the button with an underlined “A” next to the Send button to restore the Gmail formatting bar. As with many web and mobile interfaces, Gmail can collapse tool bars and menus that you do not always need to free up limited screen space — but accidental clicking can lead to the sudden disappearance of familiar elements.

If you find yourself doing a lot of formatting on new messages to make them look the way you want, you can change your default text style. To do that in Gmail, click the gear-shaped Settings icon in the top-right corner of the browser window and choose Settings from the menu.

In the “Default text style” area of the Setting screen, add the formatting you always want to use for new messages — you can choose a font style, text size and color. Click the “Tx” button at the end to remove all formatting. Click the Save Changes button when you are finished.

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