My wife got a call from a self-described technical services professional who said that 76% of Windows computers in Massachusetts were infected in the last 48 to 72 hours and would crash. Could she go to her computer and log in to their secure server?\nShe told him she thought it was very impressive that Microsoft was calling every one of its customers in Massachusetts to notify them of the problem. \u201cI\u2019ve been using Microsoft products for years, and this is the first personal call I\u2019ve ever gotten,\u201d she said.\nHe said that Microsoft wanted him to do this, and she said it sounded like a wonderful new service. He told her to go to her computer and together they could fix the problem.\nShe told him this sounded fishy and that she wasn\u2019t going to do it.\nHe told her he\u2019d stay on the line and she could call a number he gave her to verify that he was legit.\nShe said she wasn\u2019t going to do that, either.\nHe said he\u2019d hang up and call back in five minutes.\nShe said if he had 76% of Windows users in Massachusetts to call, he was probably too busy to bother.\nShe hung up and called me with then number he\u2019d given her \u2013 (888) 514-1650.\nI called and told the man who answered that my wife had received a call from this number. Was this Microsoft?\nHe said no, but they do support Microsoft and any devices running Windows software.\nI asked how they knew something was wrong with my computer. He took my name and said he\u2019d check my account. He put me on hold and somebody else picked up.\nHe said they\u2019d noticed unusual activity on my computer that indicated someone else was using my computer from another location.\nI asked how he knew.\nHe said my computer keeps a record of suspicious activity and notifies a Microsoft secure server. Every registered Windows computer is connected to a Microsoft secure server.\n\u201cAnd you call up everyone whose computer registers suspicious activity?\u201d I asked.\nHe said he didn\u2019t but his company has the world divided up into zones to call.\n\u201cAre you Microsoft?\u201d I asked.\nNo, they were not Microsoft. They were technical support providers. \u201cDifferent sides of the same coin.\u201d\nDid I hire them? Did Microsoft?\nNo, neither one, he said.\nHow did he get my phone number to call about my computer\u2019s problem?\nWhen I registered my Microsoft computer I gave the number, he said.\nI said I didn\u2019t.\nHe recited my business phone number and asked if that was correct.\nI said it was the number I was calling from, but that his business had called my home phone. How did he get that?\nFrom my Windows registration.\nDid his business have a name?\u00a0Does it have a Web site?\nYes, he said -\u00a0www.support.live.com (This site is registered to Microsoft.)\n\nWhat was this service going to cost me?\nSomewhere between $100 and $300 or maybe nothing at all if no problem was found.\nWould he upload any software to my computer?\nNo, I would connect it to a secure server so he could check it out. \u201cAny software required would be provided from our end,\u201d he said.\nHow was he able to monitor my computer?\nHe wasn\u2019t monitoring my computer, he only got information from the secure server. \u201cWe only get information. We don\u2019t see anything on your computer,\u201d he said.\nHe asked if I had my computer with me.\nI told him I had a computer but not my computer.\nHe said I should call back when I had it with me.\nAnd he hung up.\nTim Greene covers security and keeps an eye on Microsoft for Network World. Reach him at\firstname.lastname@example.org\u00a0and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.