Beware of phishing emails asking for W-2 information

This message was sent to all UW student employees, faculty and staff with approval from the Vice President for UW Information Technology and CIO.

This email provides important information to help you protect your UW NetID and password from phishing attacks, which increase during tax season. Links were intentionally not included in the email.

How does phishing work?

Cybercriminals try to steal an employee’s login credentials so that they can download Wage and Tax Statements (Form W-2). They then use the W-2 information to electronically file a fraudulent federal income tax return in the employee’s name. By changing the bank account number, the cybercriminals receive the refund.

Fortunately, your vigilance and the UW’s two-factor authentication system (Duo) play a pivotal role in protecting employee data.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Be skeptical about emails that seem urgent or threaten negative consequences if you do not act.
    Do not reply, click links, or divulge personal information or login credentials.Phishing emails may arrive in various forms. Cybercriminals may use distressing messages to heighten the urgency or they may use logos from well-known companies. In some cases, they may send a simple meeting reminder. If you receive an email you suspect may be phishing, you can report it to help @ (no spaces).
  • The most secure way to access your University of Washington W-2 is by using the “Sign in to Workday” link found on the Integrated Service Center’s (ISC) website. Note: UW Medical Center – Northwest and UW Physicians & Faculty Practice Plan (FPPS) employees should access their 2019 W-2s in the Ultipro and ADP systems this year.

    If you suspect you’ve received a phishing email disguised as an email from Workday, you can confirm the legitimacy of the message by signing into Workday via the ISC website and double-checking you received the same message in your Workday Inbox or your Workday Notifications.

  • Do not approve unsolicited requests for two-factor authentication.
    Duo is the UW’s two-factor authentication (2FA) system, which adds a second layer of security when you sign into Workday and other University systems. Using 2FA prevents others from signing in as you, even if they know your password.If you receive an unsolicited sign-in request for Duo, and you have not signed into a system that requires it, do not approve the request. If the request is a phone call, hang up without pressing any buttons. If it is a Duo Push request, press the “deny” button and you will be given a choice to report it as fraudulent so that UW Information Technology is notified. Additionally, you should immediately change your UW NetID password to ensure your account is secure.

    (To change your password, search for “Manage UW NetID” on the UW home page. The link, “About UW NetIDs,” leads to more information about UW NetIDs and passwords.)

  • Use anti-virus software on your computers and devices and keep the anti-virus software updated.
    Sophos Anti-Virus Software is available free of charge to all UW students, faculty and staff.
    (Search for “Sophos” on the UW home page and find the “Sophos Anti-Virus Software” link on IT Connect.)
  • Learn more about phishing from recent examples, infographics and other training materials.
    (Search for “CISO” on the UW home page. These resources are featured in the “CISO News & Alerts” section on the CISO home page.)

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact

Thank you for helping to protect UW data.