University of Wisconsin–Madison
Laptop with multiple fish around a fishing pole on screen.

6/28 Phishing Alert: Subject – “IRS Announces New Programs That Forgives Millions”

The UW–Madison Office of Cybersecurity is aware of an active phishing campaign on campus in which the attacker offers to “Check your Availability for the TAX Fresh Start Program.” See the screenshot below.

NOTE: The most recently reported phishing email like this example was sent June 28, but such attacks can occur at any time. Please be on the lookout.

Phishing scam Jun 28 IRS

How can I identify this phishing attempt?

  • The subject line contains a spelling/grammatical error: “Programs that forgives.”
  • The from address has nothing to do with the IRS. It’s from a domain.
  • The URL behind the hyperlinked “check your availability” text goes to a non-IRS domain, also

Always scroll over each hyperlink

The most important habit to practice in order to protect yourself from phishing attempts is to always scroll over each hyperlink, whether words or URL, to see what web address the link actually goes to. When you scroll over a hyperlink, its destination URL displays as a tool tip.

What should I do if I receive this phishing attempt?

Use the option in Outlook to “Report a Phish” and it will be deleted from your inbox. For more details, see Office 365 – Submit a message as spam/phishing (Source: KB 45051).

What should I do if I accidentally clicked one of the fake portal links?

Immediately change your NetID password by following the instructions in NetID: Changing a Password (Source: KB 20589).

How can I learn how to recognize other phishing attempts?

Go to Learn how to recognize and report phishing (Source:

Stay updated on phishing attempts by visiting our Scam alerts page (Source:

If you are ever unsure whether an email message is legitimate, do not respond to it. Contact the DoIT Help Desk (608.264.4357) for advice. The UW–Madison Office of Cybersecurity will then block the criminal element from sending further emails and gather evidence for eventual prosecution of the crime.