Aadhaar FAQs: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has released a slew of fresh frequently asked questions (FAQS) on Aadhaar usage on its Twitter handle. It may be noted that the number of Aadhaar queries have gone up significantly and people ask hundreds of questions in relation to Aadhaar usage or a specific feature of the 12-digit unique identification number.
Worth mentioning that some of the queries addressed by UIDAI are related to sharing of Aadhaar number and other questions related to security. Having said that, here are all the frequently asked questions and their responses, shared by UIDAI:
Aadhaar FAQs 1) Can you use Aadhaar in public domain? This question recently gained search volumes after Trai Chief RS Sharma shared his Aadhaar number publicly on Twitter.
Question: “Recently, UIDAI issued an advisory asking people not to share their Aadhaar number openly in the public domain especially on Social Media or other public platforms. Does this mean that I should not use Aadhaar freely?”
Answer 1: According to UIDAI, you should use your Aadhaar without any hesitation in proving your identity and conducting transactions. “You should use your Aadhaar without any hesitation for proving your identity and doing transactions, just like you use your bank account number, PAN card, debit card, credit card, etc., wherever required,” it said.
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“Similarly, you can freely use your Aadhaar to establish your identity as and when required without any fear. While using Aadhaar, you should do the same level of due diligence as you do in case of other ID cards – not more, not less.”
“What UIDAI has advised is that Aadhaar card should be freely used for proving identity and doing transactions, but should not be put on public platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc. People give their debit card or credit card details or cheque (which has bank account number) when they purchase goods or pay school fee, water, electricity, telephone and other utility bills, etc,” it added.
Aadhaar FAQs 2) Why NO Aadhaar on social media?
Question: “If Aadhaar has to be freely used for proving identity and it is safe to do so, then why has UIDAI advised people not to put up their Aadhaar number in Social Media or public domain?”
Answer 2) UIDAI has advised users to not share their Aadhaar number on social media. “You use PAN card, debit card, credit card, bank cheques wherever required. But do you put these details openly on the internet and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.? Obviously no,” it said.
“You do not put such personal details unnecessarily in public domain so that there is no unwarranted invasion attempt on your privacy. The same logic needs to be applied in case of uses of Aadhaar,” it added.
Aadhaar FAQs 3) Can I give Aadhaar number to service provider?
Question: “I gave my Aadhaar card to a service provider for proving my identity. Can anyone harm me by knowing and misusing my Aadhaar number?”
Answer 3) UIDAI says that no harm can be caused if an individual just knows your Aadhaar number. “No. Just, by knowing your Aadhaar number, no one can harm you. It’s just like any other identity document such as passport, voter ID, PAN card, ration card, driving license, etc., that you have been using freely for decades with service providers,” it said.
It goes on to suggest that Aadhaar identity is, instead, instantly verifiable and more trusted. “Aadhaar identity, instead, is instantly verifiable and hence more trusted. Also, as per the Aadhaar Act 2016, the Aadhaar card is required to be verified by fingerprint, iris scan, OTP authentication, and QR code,” it explained.
“Hence, it is near impossible to impersonate you if you use Aadhaar to prove your identity. People have been freely giving other identity documents such as passport, voter ID, PAN card, ration card, driving license, etc.”
“Further, under the Aadhaar Act, 2016 stringent penalties, including fines and imprisonment are provided whenever a person misuses your Aadhaar number or tries to cause any harm to you,” it added.
Aadhaar FAQs 4) What if a fraudster obtains a copy of the Aadhaar card and tries to open a bank account in my name without my knowledge?
Question: “What happens if some fraudster who obtains a copy of my Aadhaar card and tries to open a bank account in my name without my knowledge. Will I not be harmed?”
Answer 4) The UIDAI has clearly mentioned that it is very difficult for a hacker to proceed with any illegal activity in case he/she obtains a copy of your Aadhaar number. “One must keep in mind that a bank account cannot be opened merely on the presentation or submission of a physical Aadhaar card or its photocopy,” it said.
“Under the PML Rules and RBI circulars, to open a bank account, the bank is required to do biometric or OTP authentication and other due diligence before accepting Aadhaar for banking transaction or KYC.”
It said: “So no one can open a bank account in your name without your verification through biometric/OTP etc.” However, in an event when a bank account is opened by accepting an Aadhaar without biometric or OTP authentication or any other verification, the bank would be held responsible for any loss.
“An Aadhaar holder cannot be held responsible for bank’s fault. It is just like if some fraudster opens a bank account by presenting someone else’s Voter card/Ration card, it is the bank that would be held responsible not the voter or ration card holder. Till date, no Aadhaar holder has suffered any financial loss on account of such misuse,” UIDAI stated.
Aadhaar FAQs 5) Can agencies simply accept a physical copy of Aadhaar without biometric or OTP authentication?
Question: “There are many agencies that simply accept a physical copy of Aadhaar and do not carry out any biometric or OTP authentication or verification. Is this a good practice?”
Answer 5) According to the UIDAI, Aadhaar is to be accepted as the proof of identity but proper authentication under the Aadhaar Act. Other than that, the UIDAI also “strongly recommends” users top opt for a QR code verification if tools are not available for a biometric verification.
“If any agency does not follow these best practices, then that agency will be fully responsible for situations or losses arising out of possible misuse or impersonation. An Aadhaar holder is not responsible for the wrongful act of or by any agency,” it said.
Aadhaar FAQs 6) Can a fraudster withdraw money from Aadhaar linked bank account if he knows the UID number?
Question: “Can a fraudster withdraw money from my Aadhaar linked bank account if he knows my Aadhaar number or has my Aadhaar card? Has any Aadhaar holder suffered any financial or other loss or identity theft on account of impersonation or misuse?”
Answer 6) In this scenario, UIDAI clarifies that it is not possible to withdraw money from your Aadhaar linked bank account, even if a fraudster has your Aadhaar number. “Just like by merely knowing your bank account number, one cannot withdraw money from your account, similarly by merely knowing your Aadhaar number, no one can withdraw money from Aadhaar linked bank account,” it said.
“As in bank for withdrawing money, your signature, debit card, PIN, OTP, etc., is required, similarly for withdrawing money from your Aadhaar linked bank account through Aadhaar, your fingerprint, IRIS or OTP sent to your Aadhaar registered mobile will be required,” UIDAI added.
It goes on to state that no Aadhaar holder has ever suffered any financial or other loss or identity theft on account of any attempted impersonation of Aadhaar.
“Notably, every day more than 3 crore Authentications are carried out on the Aadhaar platform. In the last eight years, so far more than 2,182 crore authentications (till 31st July 2018) have been successfully done. UIDAI keeps upgrading and reviewing its security systems and safety mechanisms to make Aadhaar more secure and more usable. There has not been a single instance of a biometric data breach from the Aadhaar database. Therefore, people should freely use and give Aadhaar to prove their identity as and when required,” it explained.
Aadhaar FAQs 7) Is it necessary to verify bank account, demat account, PAN and various other services with Aadhaar?
Question: “Why am I asked to verify Bank account, demat account, PAN and various other services with Aadhaar?”
Answer 7) UIDAI suggests each user verify details such as bank account, demat account, mutual fund and PAN etc with Aadhaar to make it even more secure and prevent others from impersonating you. “When you link your bank account, demat account, mutual fund account, PAN, etc., with Aadhaar, you secure yourself because no one can impersonate you to avail these services,” it said.
“Often the fraudsters carry out transactions and transfer money from someone else’s account to their accounts and go untraced as they generally submit their fake identities to the bank while opening their accounts. They operate bank accounts in fictitious names/companies and run shell companies’ accounts to carry out money laundering or stash black money.”
The Aadhaar regulator clearly states that it would not be possible for “unscrupulous elements” to go untraced if bank accounts are verified with Aadhaar. It also suggests that the banking service as a whole would become more secure.
“As of now, 96 crore bank accounts out of total 110 crore accounts have been linked to Aadhaar. At the same time, you also contribute to serving the vital national interests by making the system rid of bogus, fakes and duplicates who could misuse IDs to evade taxes, siphon off public money, etc. Through the use of Aadhaar and other process improvements, the Government has been able to weed out more than 6 crore fakes, duplicates and ghosts’ beneficiaries and save more than Rs. 90,000 crore of public money,” it explained.
Aadhaar FAQs 8) Does linking Aadhaar with other important accounts and identity cards make users vulnerable?
Question: “Does linking my bank account, PAN, and other services with Aadhaar make me vulnerable?”
Answer 8) And the clear answer given by the UIDAI is NO. “As your bank information is not shared by the bank with anyone else, no one can have information about your bank account just by knowing your Aadhaar number. Also, UIDAI or any entity for that matter would not have any information about your bank account,” it said.
Giving an example, it suggested that a user shares his mobile number at various places and to various authorities such as a bank account, passport authorities, income tax departments but data does not get stolen. Similarly, when Aadhaar number is provided to various service providers, the details of an individual remain with the respective service providers. “Similarly, when you provide Aadhaar number to various service providers, your detail remains with the respective service providers and no single entity including the Government or UIDAI will have access to your personal information spread across various service providers,” it concluded.