Users Really Do Answer Telephone Scams


Huahong Tu, University of Maryland; Adam Doupé, Arizona State University; Ziming Zhao, Rochester Institute of Technology; Gail-Joon Ahn, Arizona State University and Samsung Research

Distinguished Paper Award Winner


As telephone scams become increasingly prevalent, it is crucial to understand what causes recipients to fall victim to these scams. Armed with this knowledge, effective countermeasures can be developed to challenge the key foundations of successful telephone phishing attacks.

In this paper, we present the methodology, design, execution, results, and evaluation of an ethical telephone phishing scam. The study performed 10 telephone phishing experiments on 3,000 university participants without prior awareness over the course of a workweek. Overall, we were able to identify at least one key factor---spoofed Caller ID---that had a significant effect in tricking the victims into revealing their Social Security number.

USENIX Security '19 Open Access Videos Sponsored by
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

Open Access Media

USENIX is committed to Open Access to the research presented at our events. Papers and proceedings are freely available to everyone once the event begins. Any video, audio, and/or slides that are posted after the event are also free and open to everyone. Support USENIX and our commitment to Open Access.

@inproceedings {236328,
author = {Huahong Tu and Adam Doup{\'e} and Ziming Zhao and Gail-Joon Ahn},
title = {Users Really Do Answer Telephone Scams},
booktitle = {28th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 19)},
year = {2019},
isbn = {978-1-939133-06-9},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
pages = {1327--1340},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

Presentation Video