In your interest.
Online Personal Finance Magazine
No beating about the bush.
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 jewellers, 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 similar.
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 transaction. 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 you.
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.
(Veeresh Malik had a long career in the Merchant Navy, which he left in 1983. He has qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, loves to travel, and has been in print and electronic media for over two decades. After starting and selling a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing.)
Commander Ravindra Pathak (retd) and Col Suresh Patil (retd) who have been campaigning against excess defence land being taken by President Pratibha Patil are well known activists in Pune. Let’s see how far their tenacity takes them in this campaign which is connected with the highest chair in this country
Col Suresh Patil (retd) saw death at close quarters when six of his colleague officers and 67 men were killed in the J&K sector in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. Commander Ravindra Pathak (retd) too was challenging death, as he was given the task of clearing under-sea mines to make Chittagong Harbour operational, immediately after the same war.
Today, both say they were gifted with a second life and hence, decided since then to give it back to the society, once they hang their boots, somewhere in the early 1990s.
It’s a story of two soldiers and one mission – to fight against encroachment of defence land by the present Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, who is none less than the President of India, and it’s Pratibha Patil, this time round.
Col Patil fired the first salvo in August 2011 when he got a whiff of President Patil “grabbing’’ a prime defence land in Khadki cantonment of Pune, admeasuring a whopping 2,42,000 sq ft as against her eligibility of getting only 4,498 sq ft of an existing government bungalow in any part of the country, as her retirement home.
Col Patil, who formed the `Justice for Jawans’ organisation for ‘serving’ and ‘retired’ soldiers and officers who suffer many difficulties in terms of accommodation and other issues, took up the President’s retirement home issue, rather intensely.
His initial war cry to halt this unjustified “capture’’ of land when the President’s soldiers and officers in the same city were being denied their rightful official accommodation due to lack of space, did not have much impact. It fell on deaf ears of the authorities as well as the media. In the meanwhile, Defence Estate officers of Pune were making hectic trips to and fro Pune-Delhi to make way for Pratibha Patil to legally get this vast tract of land, studded with two `living’ bungalows.
Col Patil appealed to other defence NGOs to join in the campaign. That’s how Comm Pathak came into the picture. Since 2008, he was also working towards the cause of pension related issues of retired soldiers on behalf of the Delhi headquartered Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM).
After the sixth pay commission, the IESM had taken up a campaign nationally to demand ‘one rank one pension’ as consecutive pay commissions recommended different criteria for soldiers and officers who may have completed the same years of service; belonged to the same group; and held the same rank; but drew different pensions depending on the year they retired.
Protests manifested in the form of 25,000 soldiers and officers returning their medals to the Pratibha Patil, since 2010. As per the protocol, the President of India in his/her role as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces is required to personally accept the ‘returned’ medals as a traditional form of protest. Ms Patil to date has not given an appointment and hence, the medals are lying in the Delhi office of IESM. Hence, the ire against Pratibha Patil was already there in the eyes of IESM members.
In early 2011, Comm Pathak decided to join Col Patil and ever since the campaign has picked up momentum. They collected incriminating evidence against her proposed retirement home through RTI. However, they got a luke warm response from the media until this week’s story in Moneylife made national waves and went viral on the social network. Suddenly the controversy is raging through all corners of the country.
Col Suresh Patil (retd) is otherwise known as an environmentalist and has been involved in greening some parts of the cantonment. The two kilometre Bogra Walking Plaza that has been turned into a beautiful landscaped garden was once a stinking nallah. Similarly, he has greened another two kilometre stretch of a nallah bank in the Pune Municipal Corporation area, under his Green Thumb NGO. More details can be found at www.greenthumbindia.org. Commander Pathak is active on this blog: http://iesmorg.blogspot.in/
(Vinita Deshmukh is a consulting editor of Moneylife. She is also an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached at [email protected])
Several people from Mumbai felt the tremors that lasted for 4-5 seconds. According to IMD, an earthquake of 4.9 on the Richter scale hit Maharashtra at 10.57am on Saturday
An earthquake measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale shook Mumbai, parts of Western Maharashtra and some areas in Gujarat at around 11am. There are no reports of any damage.
According to media reports, the epicentre of this quake was near the Koyna dam area in Satara district of Maharashtra. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) in its preliminary report has confirmed that there was an earthquake of with magnitude of 4.9 on the Richter scale in Satara district.
The IMD also reported another earthquake of 4.1 magnitude on the Richter scale, which hit Kutch region of Gujarat at 8.53am today.
Many people, including celebrities were seen tweeting about the earthquake in Mumbai. Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan tweeted, “Earthquake in Mumbai!! Did you feel it...? I did! Shutters and building shook twice for few seconds... all good here... all else?"