The Permanent Account Number often known as PAN number is an important document that is stressed very significant and important by Government of India and Reserve Bank to ensure elimination of black money in the country. Perhaps this can be viewed something similar to Social Security Number in United States. With the various e-Governance initiatives in place, Government of India has made it easy to apply for the PAN number through setting up of various PAN facilitation centers. However, getting a PAN number of any one is very easy.
By getting at this URL https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/portal/knowpan.do and keying in the first and last name the website discloses the PAN numbers. When brought this to the attention of the department, they are sending out a blunt and curt response that we can not mask/hide the PAN numbers. So next time you apply for PAN number through a third-party agent be wary of his objectives because he might just use three piece information from the application form and harvest the PAN number for his malicious objectives.
This service had been around for a long time and I had proactively informed the security issue to them about three and half years back. Today whilst searching for something found this email in the mailbox. Just thought instead of allowing it to gather dust I would let it share the same here so that people can start practicing to be safe.
At this point of time we ought to take our own precaution given the short-sightedness of Government of India. Check out the conversation between us and Income Tax of India over here: