Nowadays, they’re even invoking life-threatening issues like COVID-19 to deceive people. Tap or click here to see why the U.S. government is issuing a warning about COVID-19 phone scams. And after a few months of an onslaught of automated calls and texts, the data is finally in: COVID-19 is one of the major topics used by robocallers today in their efforts to deceive people. Here’s what you need to watch out for.

How low can you go?

According to Provision Living, 65% of individuals surveyed claimed to receive at least one robocall per day, with 91% of participants noting the frequency of robocalls increasing overall. This data is bad enough, but further investigation revealed something much worse: 25% of participants revealed they’ve experienced an increase in robocalls thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, with one in five stating they’ve received calls that directly reference the deadly disease. Most of these scam calls come in the form of bogus treatments, with financial relief and “free testing” offers following closely behind. There are also numerous reports of robocallers resorting to spam text messages that can clog up your inbox. All of these “offers” are completely bogus, as there are no commercially available treatments for COVID-19 other than over-the-counter medication to manage symptoms. In addition, financial relief offers and testing are not solicited via phone calls and never come from official government sources. There’s even a sizable chunk of calls claiming to be from the IRS regarding stimulus checks. Tap or click here for a deeper dive into stimulus robocall scams. So, as it turns out, you haven’t been imagining things. Robocalls are getting worse during COVID-19. Now, the question becomes what to do about them.

How can I stop these lowlife robocallers?

Unfortunately, there aren’t too many tried and true ways to get rid of robocallers. They’re an unfortunate part of the digital marketing ecosystem, and since many of them are based overseas, there’s no real way to regulate them with U.S. laws alone. That said, owners of landline phones have a special option they can try for themselves: anonymous call rejection. Depending on your landline service, you may have access to this handy service. Just dial the magic number *77, and you will hear three beeps. Hang up, and any call that hides its number will be rejected. This service varies by carrier, and some will charge extra for activating it. But it’s a helpful tool for scammers or legitimate robocallers who slip through the Do Not Call Registry. Tap or click here to find out how to get your name on the Do Not Call Registry, as well as other robocaller-blocking tricks you can try. Of course, if you’re a bit more vindictive, there’s always the nuclear option. Tap or click here to discover an app that not only blocks robocallers but lets you instantly sue them for damages.