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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?

I have already seen related questions like, 1, 2, 3 but they do not answer my question.

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    I'm reluctant to share this information especially when the interview process has not even started. - Then don't share it. Tell them you're not comfortable sharing this information until the interview process officially starts.
    – joeqwerty
    Jul 27 at 14:39
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    Why would we know how to mis-use PAN numbers?
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 27 at 14:58
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    @SolarMike I've updated the Q. Now to answer your Q. Obviously I'm not asking the community on methods used for defrauding folks! My perspective is tad bit different here.
    – mnm
    Jul 27 at 15:18
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    In the US, businesses can’t force you to disclose your SSN simply because they need a unique identifier for their database; they have to need it for reporting information to the IRS or something similar. I would be surprised if India didn’t have similar privacy protections, but a quick search didn’t turn anything up.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 27 at 16:00
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    Why would we(!) know - This is a public, international site, is it not? Jul 27 at 16:21
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I am from India. You can very pointedly decline to share this information and tell them that apart from your contact details, resume and references, you will not share any other personal data.

Many requiruiting firms around the world have a second business model of making money from selling your profiles to marketing companies and data brokering firms (unless their country's law forbids them to). That is why they unnecessarily ask for as much personal data as they can, and try to manipulate you into giving it.

If you have a good profile, and the experience to match it, a decent recruiting firm will not let you go.

(Do note though that for some positions many companies outsource the job of verifying the credentials of an employee to such consultancy firms. In such a scenario, you may have to share some personal data with them if a company is considering to hire you. A compromise you can make is to tell the firm that you are quite willing to share this data, if necessary, after a successful interview and an offer. But even then, only share the requested info with the company hiring you or only if they ask you to share it with the consultancy.)

As for their excuse of needing a PAN for their database, tell them to use the phone number to prevent duplicates. Or ask them how they enter the data of someone who doesn't have a PAN card yet, and to use the same process for you.

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    Thanks for taking the time to post a well-written answer. Post reading the comments and answers, I've reported the consultant to the job board compliance team, where the job advert was posted.
    – mnm
    Jul 28 at 4:22
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    I live in a country where things like that are illegal. Thanks for your insight, I would've said no problem just share it, since I am used to knowing that they are not allowed to do anything with my information without my knowledge. I would have guessed that everyone has this protection 😅
    – bibleblade
    Aug 6 at 7:01
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Indian working in India, here.

Most of the companies in India outsource candidate sourcing and set certain guidelines to these consultancies. Expected CTC limitations, notice period limitations, DOB or age limitations etc. And one of such guidelines is, PAN card details to ensure that they are not interviewing the same person, twice, for the same role, within a given period of time. Crazy rules, but this is how it is.

You can always ask the recruiters if you can provide these details after you get an offer. Be prepared for either kind of binary answer. If they refuse, it is your call to attend such interviews or not.

Remember that if you are an immediate joinee, this rule could even be relaxed, for you.

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    Thanks for providing an alternative perspective.
    – mnm
    Jul 28 at 4:23

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