To me from: *J Sobti*

Use your PAN card carefully

PAN card data has become essential for certain transactions, which makes
PAN card identity theft more likely than ever.

Waving a PAN (Permanent Account Number) card as a form of identity, when
such a document is required with a photograph, has become second nature to
many of us. Keeping a laminated copy as a spare, and placing the original
in safe-keeping, is the strategy adopted by many. But now, with more and
more transactions requiring a copy of a PAN card, or at the very least the
number, it appears that the role of this essential piece of plastic, and
its consequences, are rapidly changing, in a way and manner not anticipated
by the authorities.

Tipped off by a message in an amateur railfans group (IRFCA)) and prodded
by a couple of anecdotal experiences, this is what we discovered about the
widespread misuse of PAN card data. If you are using it to book Tatkal
tickets, then you have to provide the number. This number then reflects on
the booking chart, which is displayed openly on the carriage, at the
departure station and elsewhere.

In some cities and states, hotels demand copies of PAN cards. Similarly, if
running up huge bills at restaurants, and paying in cash—you can be asked
for a PAN card. Then at jewelers, second-hand car dealers, property
brokers, landlords, tenants, and many more entities, they all want a copy
of your PAN card. Travel agents and visa facilitation centres are also not
averse to asking for this detail.

All this is fine in normal situations. But if you have ever seen determined
looking young men taking down details of name, age, gender and
origin/destination, along with the PAN card number, from railway
reservation charts, know that they are paid anything between Rs5 and Rs10
per detail collected. And if you have ever received strange phone calls or
telegrams/emails from weird people after applying for a visa, then it
worries you even more. Very often they appear to have copies of all the
documents you placed with the visa centres.

This PAN card number then becomes a tool for benami transactions in a
variety of hands. And it appears that this problem is growing very rapidly.
Including, it seems, with credit cards issued, new cars purchased, or

What happens, then, if you are a victim of PAN card identity theft, and
data emerges which shows you as having transacted a vast amount of money
somewhere? Which may also match with your actual travel?

# From the trader’s point of view, a penalty of Rs10,000 per wrong PAN
card information provided can be levied and so it becomes incumbent on the
trader to try to ensure that correct data is collected and provided,
preferably with an additional identity proof.

# From the tax-paying PAN card holder’s point of view, if despite
checking the Form 26AS online some benami transactions take place, and you
do not spot it till it is too late, then the Income Tax department will ask
the PAN card holder to prove that he did not carry out the transcation. The
Income Tax department can also ask the PAN card holder to explain the
source of the funds used. Resolution can take years.

# From the non-tax-paying PAN card holder’s point of view, there may not
even be the option of checking Form 26AS online, and the first he will come
to know is when he receives a notice from the Income Tax department. Again,
the common man suffers and God help you if somebody takes a dislike towards

Obviously, the quoting of a PAN card for cash transactions is not a
fool-proof method and needs to be fine-tuned some more. That is for the
finance ministry to consider and implement and one method would be to
insist that additional steps like signed photocopy of PAN card, signed
photocopy of additional identity document and possibly video/photo record
of the transaction be retained by traders/customers taking part in
high-value cash transactions.

On your part, try not to use the PAN card as an identity document or for
other casual transactions, and have control over photocopies given out.

Source : ML Foundation website

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