In just over a year, India has taken Aadhaar—the 12-digit unique identification number that all Indian residents receive at birth—from an optional program to one where it’s mandatory to obtain several services, including government subsidies and cell phone subscriptions. In this time, it’s also become the subject of heated debate about its safety, putting sensitive personal information of nearly 1 billion people at risk. To ensure your information remains safe, be sure to take note of these important things you need to know about your Aadhaar card. Is Your Aadhaar Card at Risk Here What You Need to Know

How can I check if my Aadhaar number has been leaked?

The UIDAI has set up a complaint registration site where you can register if your Aadhaar number was leaked. The form asks for your name, phone number, registered mobile number and other details. The form asks that you enter only 10 digits of your Aadhaar number and submit. Upon clicking submit, you will receive a one-time password (OTP) on your registered mobile phone. Once you enter that OTP correctly in another page, you will see a message telling whether or not your details have been leaked. Do note that as per reports from earlier today, some people weren’t able to view their results due to issues with server timeouts on mAadhaar app which can be downloaded by those who have an activated account.

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What does this breach mean for me?

Well, first and foremost, you need to realize that your data was never actually breached in any way. The UIDAI simply reported (and Google confirmed) that some private details were published as part of a security researcher’s report. In other words, it wasn’t a breach; instead, it was just something that happened.

Is Your Aadhaar Card at Risk Here What You Need to Know
Is Your Aadhaar Card at Risk Here What You Need to Know

That said, there are still a few things you can do to stay safe from here on out. As far as immediate steps go, consider changing your password or locking down access with two-factor authentication . It may also be wise to freeze your credit for awhile—just in case anything comes up later on.

How did this happen and who is responsible?

Last week, a government body issued an alert saying that foreign entities had been able to access millions of Indian citizens’ Aadhaar data. But how did that happen and who was responsible for it? A deeper look into what happened can help answer some questions about India’s controversial national ID program. The bigger question: Should you be worried about what’s happened so far—and whether your own data could still be vulnerable in coming years. The only way to know for sure is if you have all of your facts straight…

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Can I cancel my Aadhaar based on this breach?

Yes, linking your bank account with your Aadhaar card is a good idea. It prevents fraudulent use of your bank account because you need a fingerprint scan and an OTP sent to your phone before you can withdraw money from an ATM. Even if someone steals or finds out your details, they won’t be able to access money from your bank account unless they have both your card and phone. This is particularly helpful in preventing identity theft (see #2 below). Additionally, if you’re still eligible for government benefits that require UID verification—for example, if you don’t pay income tax—linking will help make sure those benefits are delivered correctly and that no one else gets them instead.

Is Your Aadhaar Card at Risk Here What You Need to Know
Is Your Aadhaar Card at Risk Here What You Need to Know

Does it affect other government services like EPFO, PAN etc.?

There are two ways in which your Aadhaar card can be deactivated. The first is through a home ministry order, while the second is an invalidation request from UIDAI. However, government services will only stop working if they rely on your biometrics for authentication or use your Aadhaar number as a permanent identifier. For example, if you link your employer’s pension account with your PAN and PAN gets invalidated because of that, it will affect its transactions but won’t render it useless altogether. However, other services like EPFO need you to use your Aadhaar card for identification purposes so they may become dysfunctional until you resubmit copies of documents that verify who you are.

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Is WhatsApp sharing details with Facebook in any way related to this incident?

WhatsApp changed its privacy policy in August 2017, stating that it would start sharing information with Facebook—the company where Zuckerberg was said to have purchased WhatsApp. The proposed Facebook Information Sharing Policy would allow us (and third parties we authorize) to collect, use and share certain information such as your mobile phone number, device ID or advertising ID with them, WhatsApp explained in a detailed FAQ about its data-sharing practices. In other words: If you’re uncomfortable with Facebook getting your data through WhatsApp, you’ll want to delete your account right away.

Should I link my bank account with my Aadhar card?

By linking your bank account with your Aadhaar card, you’re able to link it with a number of financial services. For example, you can use it to verify your identity during an online purchase or when opening a bank account. However, there is no need for you to link it unless there is an existing service that requires your information. If so, you will be notified by email and phone within two days of getting your Adhaar card.

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