Aaadhar, the identity proof card backed by the world’s largest biometric identification system, has been one of the biggest talking points in India in recent years. Whether it was the security breach scare in 2017 and concerns over its mandatory linking with all our day-to-day activities to the new amendment of voluntary disclosure, this 12-digit number has impacted our lives in one way or the other ever since its inception.
But a number of recent developments have impacted how, and for what purpose, we use this rather sophisticated identification card – all the more reason for you to be aware of certain things you need to do to ensure your Aadhaar remains safe. Read on as we’ve discussed a few super-critical pointers:
Aadhaar Amendment Bill 2019: Know your rights
Earlier this year, the Union Cabinet cleared an amendment bill which now allows the voluntary disclosure of your Aadhaar card for several tasks including opening a bank account and applying for a mobile connection. In other words, this amendment states that no private entity can force you to provide your Aadhaar details to authenticate your identity to complete your Know Your Customer (KYC) check unless it is so provided by a law passed in the parliament. Furthermore, only banking companies can use online Aadhaar authentication until any further orders are issued by the government. Any violation of this can lead to strict penalties imposed by the government.
However, do note that linking of PAN and Aadhaar continues to remain mandatory – as such this is a compulsory box that needs to be ticked to file your income tax returns. Also, those who wish to avail government’s welfare schemes and subsidies must enrol for Aadhaar.
Why is it necessary to keep your Aadhaar safe?
This Unique Identification Authority of India-issued identity card contains sensitive information about you that you must protect at all times. It contains your personal information including your name, age, gender, address, and your photograph. When applying for your Aadhaar, your 10 fingerprints and both your irises are scanned to establish your identity. After this process, you are issued a unique and random 12-digit number as your Aadhaar. Given how sensitive the information on this constitutionally recognised card is, any compromise can lead to identity theft and even monetary loss. Hence, it is imperative that you use your Aadhaar safely.
How to use your Aadhaar safely
There are certain Not-To-Do’s when it comes to the safe use of your Aadhaar. Let’s look at them here:
Do not share your Aadhaar details on any social media sites
Yes, social media today has become part of the air that we breathe. We want the world to know how we live every second of our lives, but somethings should not be shared online, and your Aadhaar is one of them.
For instance, let’s say your Aadhaar details are required to confirm a booking your friend or family member is completing and urgently requires your details. In this digital era, the first thought is to snap a picture of your Aadhaar card and send it on Facebook or Instagram. But, just as you wouldn’t post your credit card number or your bank details on a social media platform, regard your Aadhaar number the same way and refrain from sharing it publicly.
Visit the UIDAI website and lock your biometrics
As mentioned previously, when applying for Aadhaar, your biometric information is captured. Your 10 fingerprints and both your irises are scanned, and your photograph is taken.
Did you know that you can lock this information? Once you lock your biometric data, no one will be able to access it. Locking your biometrics will prevent any future misuse of your Aadhaar.
To lock your biometrics, simply visit the UIDAI website and follow this path: My Aadhaar > Aadhaar Services > Lock/Unlock Biometrics.
You have the provision to temporarily unlock the information by following the same path.
Do not download your e-Aadhaar card on a system you don’t trust
The advantage of going digital is that whenever you complete transactions online, apply for products, and so on, you no longer need to go through the tedious process of taking printouts and submitting documents at a physical location. You can simply upload soft copies requested on various portals.
UIDAI has made it incredibly simple to download your e-Aadhaar card anytime, anywhere. Suppose you don’t have your Aadhaar card with you and you urgently need to send a copy of it for authentication purposes, you may find it easy to just use any computer/laptop to download and submit it in a matter of minutes. You may then forget to delete it from the foreign system.
Yes, your downloaded Aadhaar card is password-protected, but hackers could bypass password protections to get hold of your information. For these reasons, never download your Aadhaar on any system you don’t trust.
Do not give out your Aadhaar information over the phone
Phishing scams are becoming very popular these days where you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from your bank, service provider or online seller and they ask you for sensitive information that they plan on using without your authorisation.
First and foremost, Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act has been struck from the bill, meaning banks, phone companies, security companies, etc. cannot insist on you providing your Aadhaar information. You can voluntarily choose to do so but the same cannot be insisted on you, should you choose not to disclose the information.
Also, no one calling you legitimately will ask you for any sensitive information over the phone such as your bank details, debit/credit card information, along with your Aadhaar number. If you get such a phone call demanding sensitive information, refuse to provide it, and alert the authorities immediately.
Aadhaar is an identification document, so the consequences of not keeping it safely can prove to be catastrophic in compromising your identity. Guard your Aadhaar details as you would do of any other sensitive information.
Adhil Shetty is CEO, BankBazaar.com
First Published: IST