Pensioners who get their due pension through pension disbursing authorities (PDAs), such as the bank or the post office, are required to furnish a 'life certificate' or 'jeevan pramaan patra' to these PDAs once every year. This life certificate is submitted by presenting themselves personally or by delivering it in the prescribed format. Pensioners can generate a digital life certificate using a software application and a secure Aadhaar-based biometric authentication system.
However, Bank Bachao Desh Bachao Manch (BBDBM or Manch), a civil society organisation, has warned against pensioners getting cheated due to the use of Aadhaar and biometrics for jeevan pramaan patra.
The Manch, in a letter to Dr Jitendra Singh, minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions, says, "With the exponential growth in the number of Aadhaar-enabled payment system (AePS)-related frauds, the process of obtaining life certificate digitally involving capturing of fingerprints, should not be outsourced to external agencies to reduce the chances of compromising biometric details."
"In many cases, due to geriatric-related issues, the bio-metric details cannot be captured. Similarly, for facial recognition may also prove to be difficult due to geriatric changes. Fraudsters are likely to make use of the opportunity to call up pensioners or send phishing messages with links asking them to part with their know-your-customer (KYC), ATM card details on the pretext of obtaining life certificates during November," the Manch says.
A special provision allows super senior pensioners aged 80 and above to begin submitting their life certificates in October. Those below 80 must provide their life certificates in November. They can either submit the certificate physically, by visiting banks, post offices, or online.
While most senior citizen pensioners visit bank branches during November and sign on the register as proof of living, some find it challenging to be physically present. This usually means a lot of trauma for elders who are not in good health or too old to make it physically to their bank branches.
"Cyber malefactors have been calling pensioners to update their life certificate by getting their data from somewhere as date of appointment, date of retirement, pension payment order (PPO) number, Aadhaar number, email, address, monthly pension, and nominee. The fraudsters call pensioners with their data to convince them that they are calling from the pension department and ask the pensioners to share a one-time passcode (OTP) for updating their life certificates. Once they get OTP from pensioners, the fraudsters get direct access to their bank accounts and transfer the amount from pensioners' accounts to a fraud account," the CPAO says.
Here are the suggestions made by the Manch about jeevan pramaan or life certificates for pensioners...
The suggestions are as appended:
• To reiterate acceptance of hard-copy of life certificates duly signed by physicians or gazetted officers at non-home bank branches to facilitate submission of life certificates by pensioners who are away from their pension paying branch for some reasons during November as many bank branches refuse to accept life certificates of pensioners on the pretext of them being non-home branch pensioners.
• Instruct banks not to outsource obtaining digital life certificates to arrest chances of compromise of bio-metric details. Banks should not involve business correspondents for this purpose in light of the significant number of AePS at customer service points (CSPs).
• Banks are to send emails or messages to pensioners not to compromise their KYC details to anyone over the telephone or click on any embedded link sent to them through SMS or email.
• Banks to constitute a special task force of employees or officials to obtain life certificates from pensioners who are unable to submit life certificates by 20 November 2023.
• Pensioners should be permitted to submit life certificates in the month of their retirement instead of November to avoid the rush at bank branches during November.
Meanwhile, to promote the use of digital life certificates and face authentication technology, the Union department of pension and pensioners' welfare (DoPPW) has launched a nationwide campaign scheduled from 1st November to 30 November 2023. This campaign aims to educate Central government pensioners and pension disbursing authorities across 100 cities, with a target of reaching 50 lakh pensioners. Detailed guidelines have been issued to ensure the campaign's success and maximise its outreach, especially to super senior, sick, and incapacitated pensioners in remote areas.