It was bedtime and the phone rang. “Unknown name,” my Caller ID said, and the phone number was “1.” Sounds legit, right? No? I picked it up anyway. There was an audible delay after I said, “Hello.”

“Hello?” a distant voice said. “Hello?”

“Hello,” I said.

“Hello. My name is ‘Daniel,’ and I’m calling from ‘Windows Technical Support.’ How are you this evening?”

I really wanted to tell him my name was something obviously non-American, but I couldn’t think of anything so I told him I was fine. Next time I’m going to tell him my name is “Dhanesh.” After an introductory ramble, “Daniel” said my computer was sending alerts because it had lots of errors, and it was impossible for me to see them.

“Impossible for me to see them?” I asked, trying to sound fascinated.

“That’s right,” he said. “They are impossible for you to see. Both the alerts and the errors are impossible for you to see.”

“What if I put a packet capture on it?” I asked.

“They are impossible for you to see,” he said.

“But if I put a packet capture on, then I can see what my computer is sending over the network,” I said.

“What?” he asked.

“Do you know what a packet capture is?” I asked.

“No,” he admitted with an awkward pause. I’ll bet that wasn’t in his script. In his moment of weakness, I went in for the kill.

“It lets you see everything that’s traveling on your network. If you want to progress beyond sitting on a helpdesk, it might be a good idea to learn what a packet capture is,” I said.

And with that, “Daniel” hung up on me. How rude. And only one minute, forty-five seconds into the call. I think that’s a new record.

None of this should be news to anybody, but this is still a scam. Maybe their scare tactics involving harmless event log messages aren’t working well anymore, or maybe they’re just too time-consuming, but if your computer is silently doing bad things, this isn’t the way Microsoft is going to deal with it.

Let me quote Microsoft itself: “Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.

But hey, if you want to have a little fun, if someone with a single-digit phone number calls you with a claim like that, play along for about a minute, then say, “Hang on, let me fire up a packet capture so I can check this out, this sounds cool! Hey, since you’re technical support, you’ll know this. Can I run a packet capture on my switch, or do I need to put the computers on my old 10-meg hub?”

Why tell these guys you’re smarter than them when you can show them?