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Biometric system for vehicle sale in Pakistan’s Punjab faces forgery issues

Complaints have emerged in the Pakistani state of Punjab that a biometric verification system put in place by the state government to ease business transactions such as the sale of vehicles and transfer of vehicle ownership has become the subject of forgery.

Biometric verification has been compulsory since January this year in Punjab for buyers and sellers of vehicles and for the transfer of ownership, thanks to a system put in place by the Punjab Department of Excise and Taxation, The Express Tribune writes.

The outlet says it found out through an investigation that since the installation of the system, people have been using two methods to trick it, and that taxation officials involved in the fraud scheme charge customers between Rs 10,000 (US$53) and Rs 20,000 ($106) to have biometrics verified in their name without the knowledge of real owners of the information.

According to The Express Tribune, the system is tricked by users intentionally misusing the ‘correction’ feature in the software which makes it possible to easily replace the ID card of the original owner, and by carrying out verification in the name of the vehicle seller which gives the impression that they are either residing oversees or that their fingerprints have disappeared from the system.

More than 300 cases are so far said to be under probe for possible forgery, the report adds.

An unnamed official of the Punjab Department of Excise and Taxation is quoted as admitting the gravity of the problem and says steps are being taken to handle the situation.

“For the future, we are considering a proposal to limit the existing facility of identity card correction and authority letters in all districts to Lahore only. Now the applicants for transfer will come to the office of the excise department and the excise staff will generate a PSID through which they would be able to make the payment online or at the bank counter,” the official said.

The official said final approval for the proposals is still pending.

Last year, Pakistan introduced biometric verification for currency buyers to stem the flow of cash to extremists.

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