How to prevent misuse of your Aadhaar?

Aadhaar is a 12 digit unique identity number that can be obtained by residents and Indian passport holders. This number is based on the biometric (fingerprint and iris scan) and demographic information of the individual. Though it might not be mandatory for all, Aadhaar is often asked for opening bank accounts, carrying out financial transactions, property registration, obtaining a mobile connection or getting subsidies from the government.

One of the most important features of the Aadhaar is its utility as a KYC document. Gone are the days when you had to personally visit banks/financial institutions to complete your KYC formalities for availing a loan or making an investment. The Government of India and the RBI has approved Aadhaar as an Official Valid Document for completing for the KYC process. 

While using Aadhaar linked with mobile number has made the KYC process easier and hasslefree, it has also increased chances of misuse of your Aadhaar. 

Instances of misuse of Aadhaar

An Instance of misuse of private data

There have been numerous cases involving misuse of the biometric data of individual users. Some of the examples being – Aadhaar data being stored illegally and used to make multiple payments using the same fingerprints or fake Aadhaar numbers/cards being generated using stolen biometric data. There have also been cases, where the data collection agencies have made personal data public. 

Taking these factors into account, the UIDAI (Aadhaar Issuing Authority) has enabled users to lock and unlock their biometrics data on their Aadhaar or lock your Aadhaar which will ensure privacy and safety of the biometric data. 

How to prevent misuse of your Aadhaar

Locking biometrics on Aadhaar or locking your Aadhaar altogether can be highly helpful in securing your data linked to the number. All you need to do this is a mobile number linked to your Aadhaar. If you haven’t done so already, your mobile number can be easily linked to Aadhaar by visiting your nearest Aadhaar enrolment centre and updating your details. (The mobile number cannot be linked online).

Locking biometrics from UIDAI website

An indicative image of fingerprinting which is used in Aadhaar

You can lock your biometrics conveniently from the UIDAI website by following these steps

  1. Visit https://uidai.gov.in/
  2. Go to the My Aadhaar Tab 
  3. Under the Aadhaar Services Tab, Click Lock/Unlock Biometrics from the Drop-Down list
  4. A new tab opens up where you would need to Check the button to acknowledge that you understand the effects of locking your biometric data and Click on Lock/Unlock Biometrics button.
  5. In the next page that opens up, you would have to fill in your Aadhaar, your email or Mobile number, captcha and click on Send OTP or use TOTP
  6. Once, the correct details you go to the next screen which would say that your biometrics are not locked and if you would like to lock them now. You could click on “Enable Locking Feature” 
  7. This will lock your biometrics.

To unlock your biometrics, you would need to follow the same steps as above and in the last step click “Unlock Biometrics”

Locking biometrics from M-Aadhaar app

Image of M-Aadhaar app which is very convenient.

The UIDAI describes the M-Aadhaar app as, “More than the physical Aadhaar in your wallet”. You could have access to many more facilities like updating address, storing Aadhaar of up to 5 family members in one place, using the app for paperless eKYC, etc.

In addition to these facilities, you could also lock your biometrics through your M-Aadhaar app which might be easier to access and lock/unlock your biometrics as needed. 

The steps to be followed for locking your biometrics on M-Aadhaar app are as follows

  1. Download and register your details on the app.
  2. Use your PIN to log on the app
  3. On your profile page, you can click on the LOCK/UNLOCK Biometrics button to Lock your biometrics. 

Locking your Aadhaar through the UIDAI website

Biometrics is one part of your Aadhaar, but sometimes your Aadhaar number could be at risk if someone gets hold of your mobile and is aware of your Aadhaar. It could be fraudulently used for making financial transactions. 

You must be wondering if locking your biometric data is going to be helpful here? You know the answer, it is not! So, how could you prevent misuse of your Aadhaar in these cases? There is a way out! You could lock your Aadhaar. 

How to lock your Aadhaar?

You could lock your Aadhaar using the UIDAI website. The steps to be followed are

  1. Visit https://uidai.gov.in/
  2. Go to the My Aadhaar Tab 
  3. Under the Aadhaar Services Tab, Click on Aadhaar Lock or Unlock from the Drop-Down list.
  4. Check the Lock UID radio button, fill in the details, captcha and the OTP received to lock your Aadhaar. 

To unlock the Aadhaar, you would need to go through the same procedure. 

But, you may ask how would you carry out any authentication if your Aadhaar is locked? To make this possible, UIDAI has introduced a Virtual ID (VID). A VID is a random 12 digit number linked to your Aadhaar and can be used for carrying out authentication or e-KYC. By using a VID you can avoid giving your Aadhaar number to any service provider and protect it from being misused.

A VID may be generated either on the UIDAI portal or by sending an SMS in the format GVID <last 4/8 digits of your Aadhaar>. To lock/unlock your Aadhaar it is mandatory to have a VID beforehand. An individual can generate any number of VID in a day; a VID does not have any expiry either. As you generate a new VID, the old one no longer remains valid. 

To sum it all up, locking biometrics and locking your Aadhaar are two different ways in which you can prevent misuse of your Aadhaar. You should understand that these processes work differently.

It is advisable to keep your biometrics under Aadhaar locked as it is not used frequently. Further, the use of VID can keep your Aadhaar number safe. Make good use of these facilities provided and keep yourself safe from fraudulent transactions. 

 

 

Akshatha Sajumon


An ex-officer of the Indian Air Force and a CFA, Akshatha loves writing on personal finance and credit products. When not working, she loves taking road trips to offbeat locations.