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Aadhar woes: Yet another bank opens account without consent

Following the report carried by MiD DAY about Aadhar details being used to open bank accounts of applicants without their consent (‘Your Aadhar data is being misused by banks’, MiD DAY, January 24), another applicant has come forward claiming that he has received a similar letter from a bank. 

Surprisingly, in this letter, there is no mention of how the bank received the applicant’s personal details. The letter requests the applicant to collect his cheque book and pass book from the branch.


Upset: Amin Mukhi (above) received a letter from the Hill Road branch of Vijaya Bank confirming the opening of an account under his name

Bandra-based businessman, Amin Mukhi (43) received a letter addressed to him from the Hill Road branch of Vijaya Bank last week. The letter, dated December 28, 2012 confirms the opening of an account under Mukhi’s name and asks him to pick up the booklets from the branch. It further states that he needs to carry only the letter sent by the branch while collecting them.

Mukhi said, “Though I received my Aadhar card six months ago, I received this letter from the bank recently. On visiting the bank, I learnt that the bank had received my personal data from UIDAI and the account was opened on that basis. They informed me that my account was inactive and could be activated on submission of a photocopy of the Aadhar card. They said they had opened many other accounts like mine and would continue to keep them inactive, till the Aadhar cardholder activates it.”

Can’t be closed
Mukhi claims that he never gave consent for his details to be shared with a bank for an account under his name. He clearly remembers that there was no provision asking the applicant for permission to open a bank account. The branch manager at the bank claimed that Mukhi could activate the account by producing any photo-identification. When he asked if the account could be closed, the manager said that was not possible.

Mukhi said, “When I asked the manager about the procedure for closing the account, she said that the account is still inactive, so I need not worry. She claimed that though the account was open, it was not operational. When I stressed on wanting to close the account, she claimed that it was not possible.”

Surprised by the response, Mukhi wrote a letter to G Jagmohan Rao, chief general manager-in charge (Dept of Banking Supervision), Reserve Bank of India. In the letter he mentioned the details and complained about what appeared to him the irresponsible action of an over- enthusiastic marketing team at the bank.

Bank clarifies
S Ram, a senior official from Hill Road branch of Vijaya Bank said, “These accounts are generated from our head office and sent to respective branches. We have a predefined format of our promotional letter and we sent the same letter to the Aadhar applicants whose accounts have been opened at our branch.”

Asked why there is no mention of UIDAI in the letter, he added, “We admit this mistake on our part in failing to mention where we got the details of the Aadhar applicant from, in our letter. The applicants need not activate the accounts and if they want to close the account, I shall forward their request to my head office.”

No scope for data leak: UIDAI
Sumnesh Joshi, assistant director general, UIDAI spoke to MiD DAY, saying that he would send instructions to his staff to retrace the enrollment forms of the applicants who claim to have not given a consent for opening a bank account and yet have received a letter from a bank. He claimed that there is no chance that the personal details of Aadhar applicants could be leaked or misused by a bank.

Joshi said, “The details of applicants are maintained in a very secure manner and cannot be stolen or leaked. We do not pass the database in a normal hard disk to banks by which the accounts have been generated. It is only after obtaining the consent of the applicant that we share their details with the bank.” He added, “The data is given in an encrypted form to the corporate offices of banks and they decrypt these data to generate bank accounts. This data can be downloaded only by the bank using a private key and hence cannot be leaked from our database.”

Asked what action UIDAI has planned to address Mukhi’s case, Joshi said, “We would forward the copy of the applicants who have not given consent to our head office in Delhi. Our tech team would then trace their enrollment details to verify if consent was given. In case of no consent from the applicant, we would demand an explanation from the respective bank as to how they received the applicant’s details.”  

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