Most of your financial transactions need your PAN card as one of the crucial documents for identification. A Permanent Account Number (PAN) is a ten-digit unique alphanumeric code issued by the Income Tax Department to identify the country's income tax payers. As a result, regardless of its tax payment function, it serves as identification proof.
You can also open a bank account or demat account or obtain a loan or purchase RBI bonds or insurance with the help of PAN card.
Lately, there has been a surge in PAN card frauds, leaving individuals vulnerable to identity theft and financial losses. Hence, it is of utmost importance to be aware of the various possible misuses of the PAN card and how you can prevent it.
How to check if someone is using your PAN card
You can check if someone is using your PAN card by checking your CIBIL score or credit score. It is the best way to know if any unauthorised loans have been taken under your name.
Here’s how you can check your credit score.
Various bureaus or financial companies like TransUnion CIBIL, Equifax, Experian or CRIF High Mark offer the facility to check the score.
You can visit their official website and search for ‘Check your credit score’ facility. Some websites offer it for free, while a few may charge.
Enter your personal details like date of birth, name, email ID, mobile number and PAN. You may receive OTP code on your mobile number for verification.
Following which, you will be able to access your credit score and know if your lost PAN card has been misused or not.
PAN card scams you should beware of:
Here are some of the several methods by which perpetrators might misuse a PAN card:
Applying for credit cards or loans
Fraudsters can use your PAN information to avail of credit cards or loans and finance illicit practices. However, the responsibility will fall squarely on the victim, and they will be accountable for repaying debts and facing legal ramifications.
Illegal jewellery purchase
In India, buying jewellery over a particular threshold necessitates submitting PAN data. Hence, scammers can misuse the victim's PAN to purchase expensive jewellery, and the income tax department will summon the victim to face the consequences.
Renting hotel rooms and vehicles
While checking into a hotel room in India, you must submit your identity proof. Scammers generally enter identity details from stolen PAN cards to hide their identity. If any illegal event happens in these hotel rooms, authorities reach out to the person’s registered ID, and this proof is generally hoaxed or spoofed.
A similar example of PAN card misuse is renting a car in your name and using it for trafficking, smuggling, and other illegal activities.
Thus, it is important to understand the significance of PAN card and how you can safeguard your personal details.
Tips to avoid falling prey to PAN card fraud
To prevent PAN card fraud, follow these guidelines:
Before entering PAN on websites, check the site’s authenticity by looking for an 'HTTPS' prefix in the URL, which indicates that the site has an SSL certification and is safe to transact on.
When providing PAN card photocopies, self-attest them by signing, writing the date, and mentioning the reason for submission.
Avoid providing full names and birth dates on suspicious websites.
Frequently check credit scores and notify regulating authorities of any discrepancies.
Delete PAN details or personal information saved on any mobile device.
Reporting misuse of your PAN card?
Now that you know about the various PAN card frauds, and how you can prevent them, you must also be aware of how to raise a PAN card misuse complaint, if required.
The central government has established an electronic website called Aayakar Sampark Kendra where you can file PAN grievances. Here are the steps to report the misuse of PAN card.
Visit the official website of TIN NSDL and search ‘customer care’ section on the home page.
On clicking the ‘customer care’, you will be find ‘complaints/queries’ tab on the drop-down menu.
Click on the tab to open a complaint form.
Enter your personal details and describe the nature of the complaint. By entering the Captcha code, you can submit the form.
Your complaint will be registered.
However, as a smart precautionary measure, you can choose to purchase the Wallet Care plan through Bajaj Finance to secure your valuables. In case you lose your PAN card to theft, you can avail of the replacement benefit to get your PAN card replaced for free.