I'm an experienced professional and am I'm actively searching for jobs at present in India. I'm seeing a disturbing trend off which I'm unsure how to handle. Consultant firms that are not directly related to the companies have approached me, asking for the Permanent Account Number (PAN) and its soft-copy. PAN is an identification number assigned to all taxpayers in India.
I'm reluctant to share this information especially when the interview process has not even started; i.e. company has not shortlisted my profile or called for round-1 of the interview. I asked the recruiter on the necessity of this information. I was told that its required to ensure there is no duplicate candidate information in the company's database. So now my question to the community is;
I am concerned that my PAN card number/details could be mis-used for fraudulent activity. Can I refuse to provide it without losing job opportunities, or is there something else I should do to protect my identity while faced with requests like this?