What’s your PAN? Anybody can find out!

Glossary for non-Indian readers: PAN – Permanent Account Number

The geniuses at the Income Tax Department in India have set up a website called:

Know Your PAN

In reality, it should be called Know Anybody’s PAN because that’s what you’re able to do, as long as you know their last name and birthdate, neither of which anybody would consider a secret these days. You don’t even need to know the first or middle name, the website will give it to you.

I can’t fathom why anybody would think that this website is a good idea because it effectively facilitates identity fraud. Besides forgetting one’s own PAN, I cannot think of a single legitimate reason why anybody would need to use this website. And let’s be clear; allowing people to check their own PAN is not a good enough justification to make this information public.

There are plenty of illegitimate reasons why this website would be used. First and foremost would be identity fraud. Knowing someone’s PAN is crucial if you want to engage in fraudulent transactions on their behalf.

While the internet can be a useful tool, sometimes people need to think about why a tool is really necessary and think about the implications before putting it online.

However, I suppose in India, a country where privacy laws don’t exist, and the concept of personal privacy is alien, it should not come as a big surprise that the government itself is facilitating identity fraud.

Just to try out the system, you could look up one of many common Indian personalities’ names and dates of birth on Wikipedia and the website will give you their PAN.

Belorussian Translation provided by PC

2 thoughts on “What’s your PAN? Anybody can find out!”

  1. I think the government should come out with some better system where anybody’s PAN is not accessible to anybody. There should be a proper authorization before that as in the case of issuing government logo rubber stamp.

  2. Well, There can be many people with similar surnames nowadays. There are many ezzis and shakirs in our community. Many more walas and its very much a non-sense to identify any person with a surname only and a birth date. Apart from identity theft one can also rethink if one can get a PAN card if he/she has no surname, for example, me. And its a mess for me as I have went through all the trouble including lots of money to be spent for endorsements of names and so on. It would cost more then $500, for an individual, in completing various procedures in the UAE to get endorsements of names on legal documents just for getting a PAN card.

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