Friday, March 25, 2011

Forgery, Kotak and warnings on Aadhaar (UIDAI)

Here is a blog to state my experience with one of the large insurance companies - Kotak and what it means to all of us, when you sign up for Aadhar.

Last December, some of my relatives and I signed up for a few insurance products with Kotak through a common agent. One of my relatives found out that his signature was forged in the illustration acknowledgement form. On review, we found out that it was not a single account, but almost all our accounts had forged signatures. A short digression to explain what this illustration acknowledgement is.

When you sign up for an insurance with returns, the insurance company gives an illustrative return that gives an approximate gains / losses you would get. Typically this form is prepared, sent to you for signature and added as the last section in your insurance document (a big book). At Kotak, someone decided to take a shorter route, signed for all of us and prepared the book.

In January 2011, when we took it to the notice of Kotak's branch manager at Chennai Cenatoph Road branch, he accepted the problem and said that the employee who did that had been fired already. We decided to limit our next set of actions to lodging a complaint with Kotak, get an acknowledgement with details on the issue, inquiry and resolution. Our aim is to ensure that the system takes corrective action, penalize the wrong-doers and record it so that such things do not recur.

So, I promptly emailed their Client service desk ( for which I got no response till now. I waited for over a month and escalated it to the grievance redressal system. I promptly got an automatic response that assured a real response in two weeks. Three, four weeks have elapsed and no one at Kotak seems to take a note of emails published on their web-sites.

Now, this shakes my trust on our financial institutions in general and Kotak in particular. I would try to close my accounts at Kotak, but doing so without incurring any penalty could be difficult.

What does it got to do with Aadhar (UIDAI)?
With Aadhaar, your financial institutions get access to your information - your UID number, signatures, finger-prints etc. Criminals and ambitious executives can make use of this information to sign up for services that you were not aware of and may just stop short of stealing money from your bank account. In effect, they can put you in a lot of discomfort and score a few points within their organization, get a promotion, leave and what not.

The problem is not with the criminals or the ambitious executives, for they always existed, but the organizations that do not give enough importance to security and customer grievance redressel. In effect, you as an individual will have to run from pillar to post to get your problem fixed, while it becomes relatively easy for someone to misuse your information.

You, the customer do not have a lot of options when financial institutions insist on UID for opening an account. You can at least inquire if the organization has enough checks and balances to prevent misuse of your information.

To add to the risks, Aadhaar publishes API - that is a programming interface for accessing your data. Who knows who will get hold of your information and what will they do with it!

Feel free to add your comments on such problems and your opinions on Aadhaar.