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.
What is a 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.
Know how your PAN card can be misued
Your PAN card contains sensitive personal information such as your name, date of birth, photograph, signature, and PAN number. If this information falls into the wrong hands, it can be misused in several ways.
Firstly, someone could use your PAN card details to open a bank account in your name and conduct fraudulent activities using that account. This could result in you being held responsible for the actions of the fraudster.
Secondly, fraudsters could use your PAN card details to apply for loans or credit cards in your name, leaving you with the burden of paying off the debts.
Additionally, your PAN card details can be used to conduct identity theft, which can be a serious issue that can have long-term consequences.
Therefore, it is essential to protect your PAN card from misuse. Always keep it in a secure place and avoid sharing your PAN card details with anyone unless necessary. If you suspect that your PAN card has been misused, report the issue to the authorities immediately.
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.
Lost your PAN card? Here’s how to avoid misuse of lost PAN card
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.
Know some other types of fraud
Given below are a few other frauds that you need to be careful of falling prey to:
- Credit card fraud - Credit card fraud refers to the unauthorised use of someone else's credit card or credit card details to make purchases, withdraw cash, or carry out fraudulent activities.
- Debit card fraud - It is a type of financial fraud that happens through stolen cards, skimming devices, phishing scams and other means. It can result in financial losses and harm to the victim's credit score.
- UPI fraud – It refers to the illegal use of someone's UPI identification or credentials to carry out fraudulent transactions, such as making payments or transferring funds to the fraudster's account.
- ATM fraud – It refers to any type of fraudulent activity that takes place at an ATM and involves the theft of a victim's bank account or credit card information.
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.