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Expats keeping a phone number in their citizenship country (aka MagicJack not working).


JimmyJ

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On 4/21/2021 at 8:23 PM, Pib said:

See below U.S. Ebay webpage which had the UM SIM as of 21 Apr 2021

 

Thanks.

 

Finally decided to get one, ordered today $13.81 for me with sales tax.

 

My son will activate it then remail it to me here.

 

 

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I keep my UK number going in Thailand and My Thai number going when out of Thailand. So which number is used for verification sms both are available. 

Skype is working best, and have for the quality a very good value concerning the price. It´s also possible to buy a USA number with Caller ID ans both way SMS enabled.

I was using google voice ,for awhile I was getting away with just GV but some institutions got wise to this VOIP stuff and claim its not secure enough. One of them , I can't remember who, actually put

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Due to the recent LinkedIn data scrape my PayPal and some other internet subs have been compromised so I am re-securing account logins and passwords. I gave up my US AT&T mobile number last Fall as the $80/month wasn't worth it but I never followed up on the alternatives in time.

 

As a quick fix, I tried to set up a Google Voice line but that needed a US number for a verification code.

 

I then secured a Skype number, all good but that wasn't accepted as a number for verifying a new Google Voice number setup.

 

The Skype number has been accepted for primary contact for Bank of America and authorization codes were received OK but it doesn't appear to work with the bank's optional 'safepass' system (an extra level of security for certain transactions). I will need to see if it works for PayPal and the others I need to change.

 

In the meantime, my buddy in the US is going to get a 'second line' on his T-Mobile account and after setting it up the same as his one, will send the SIM over here and we'll split the monthly bill. He and others have used their T-Mobile SIM's over here with basic global roaming and sms enabled (no data packages) and it wasn't an expensive add-on like bloody AT&T's was. Once I get that SIM over here, I will set up the Google Voice account. Covering all bases and if it all works, I can drop the Skype one since it costs money.


 

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You can just get a eSIM card and add it to your list in the iPhone, problem solved. I have a eSim of each country I come and do business at. This way I pay least for data and they are only turned on when needed.

Edited by ChaiyaTH
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27 minutes ago, ChaiyaTH said:

You can just get a eSIM card and add it to your list in the iPhone, problem solved. I have a eSim of each country I come and do business at. This way I pay least for data and they are only turned on when needed.

It's my understanding that eSIM cards come embedded  in the  phone...it's like another chip on the motherboard.  It's not like a SIM you buy and physically insert in a slot.  

 

And it's also my understanding an eSIM is activated via activation code/QR code that then allows download/install of a "profile" that completes the eSIM activation.  But if that profile must be downloaded via U.S. mobile tower connection for a U.S. number but you are already in Thailand then it doesn't seem you could complete activation for that U.S. number.  You have the same activation problem as with a regular SIM insert in a slot.

 

Seems an eSIM is more of an embedded SIM that can be "reprogrammed multiple times "vs a regular SIM that is hard coded...programmed only once.

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3 minutes ago, Pib said:

It's my understanding that eSIM cards come embedded  in the  phone...it's like another chip on the motherboard.  It's not like a SIM you buy and physically insert in a slot.  

 

And it's also my understanding an eSIM is activated via activation code/QR code that then allows download/install of a "profile" that completes the eSIM activation.  But if that profile must be downloaded via U.S. mobile tower connection for a U.S. number but you are already in Thailand then it doesn't seem you could complete activation for that U.S. number.  You have the same activation problem as with a regular SIM insert in a slot.

 

Seems an eSIM is more of an embedded SIM that can be "reprogrammed multiple times "vs a regular SIM that is hard coded...programmed only once.

eSim is just configured in the phone on demand, so no your entire story is wrong. Any SIM can connect via foreign telecom networks to its home base unless you are about to work in Iraq or something.

 

However old phones do not support this yet neither do all providers offer it hassle free already, USA is quite known to be backwards, similar to their banking system. (The irony while hosting sillicon valley).

Edited by ChaiyaTH
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38 minutes ago, ChaiyaTH said:

eSim is just configured in the phone on demand, so no your entire story is wrong. Any SIM can connect via foreign telecom networks to its home base unless you are about to work in Iraq or something.

 

However old phones do not support this yet neither do all providers offer it hassle free already, USA is quite known to be backwards, similar to their banking system. (The irony while hosting sillicon valley).

In the U.S. eSIM use is still in its infancy and most phones (even new ones) do not have eSIM capability....typically it's  only the flagship models....and Apple phones seem to use eSIMs more than Android phones.  See below Feb 2020 article and partial quote from it.

 

https://www.whistleout.com/CellPhones/Guides/esims#:~:text=Cell phones available in the,%2C S20%2B%2C and Z Flip.

Quote

 

Article Summary

Cell phones available in the U.S. that are compatible with eSIMs include the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, XS, XS Max, and XR, and the Google Pixel 3, 3 XL, 4 and 4 XL, and the Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, and Z Flip. Most eSIM capable phones allow you to use both your eSIM and regular SIM simultaneously, while some still require manual switching between the two. eSIMs are easily activated by scanning a QR code into your phone's cellular or mobile network settings.

eSIM technology is fairly new in the U.S., with only a handful of eSIM-ready cell phones and even fewer carriers offering eSIM plans. Here's everything you need to know to get started with an eSIM, including why you would want one, which phones are compatible, and where to get an eSIM plan.

 

 

But the most important point when it comes to activation, it's up to the mobile company you are activating a plan on, whether a physical SIM or eSIM say for the U.S., as to if the plan can be activated outside the U.S.   And to be clear I talking about activating with a U.S. mobile company for a U.S. number and not just using an eSIM say bought in the U.K. with a U.K. number that happens to provide worldwide roaming like while in Thailand.   And hopefully being able to do an activation on a cheap monthly plan for those occasional 2FA short codes and calls.

 

It's not hard to find examples of folks who tried to activate a U.S. number using an eSIM but who were outside the U.S. when trying to activate....like the two folks below trying to activate a Google Fi U.S. number via eSIM....their attempts ended in failure and Google Fi customers service told them they had to activate within the U.S.  with a few exceptions allowed.  As shown below, it was a no-can-do just like what happens with most regular SIMs you insert into a slot when dealing with U.S. mobile numbers.

 

Talks the trying to activate a Google Fi plan using an eSIM.

Quote

 

image.png.7ea8a9b0b1e1be6f4dc206ce39cae950.png

 

 

 

 

Edited by Pib
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2 hours ago, mtls2005 said:

 

Thanks.

 

Finally decided to get one, ordered today $13.81 for me with sales tax.

 

My son will activate it then remail it to me here.

 

 

That's good...you should be happy with the UM $3/month SIM. 

 

I wish that particular Ebay ad had been around when I bought my two UM $3/month SIMs off U.S. Amazon at price-gouging cost of approx $40 each....but at that time late last year that's the only place you could buy a UM $3/month SIM online (well, maybe there were some similar Ebay ads at around $40 also).   

 

And in that Amazon ad the very first sentence in uppercase, bold lettering said the SIM must be activated in the U.S. in order to work, but the mintmobileadmin Ebay doesn't mention that, but maybe that because the seller considers it to be something "understood" that the SIM is being sold for use and activation in the U.S., although after activation you can use it worldwide via mobile or Wifi Calling connection.   When you look a plans/SIMs sold by any U.S. mobile company none of them stress on their websites that you must activate within the U.S....it just something they consider a customer should know from the lawyer talk/vague terms of agreement.

 

A fellow TVF poster pointed me to that Ebay ad where mintmobileadmin began selling the UM for $13 which is approximately its normal price in "select T-Mobile stores" where they supposedly are sold for $10-$13. But finding a T-Mobile store in the U.S. that carries the UM $3/month SIM is like finding a needle in a haystack.  And of course this new "non-pricing-gouging" Ebay ad appears after I had already bought my two UM SIMs months earlier on Amazon....just my luck.    But hey, even at a $40 upfront cost which I paid, only having to pay $3/month for a U.S. mobile number that provides connectivity worldwide is well worth it/will allow me to quickly recoup my upfront cost when compared to a plan that costs $10 and up monthly providing basically the same connectivity for those occasional 2FA short codes and calls.

 

Now I haven't checked lately but I think those price gouging Amazon ads now always show "Currently unavailable....We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock" and I don't think that's due to the Amazon sellers quickly selling out each time they restock, but probably because the sellers can't get them anymore or Amazon and/or UM received price-gouging complaints....but I'm guessing about the those reasons.   

 

And that other TVF member who pointed me to the Ebay ad even ordered a UM $3/month SIM from that Ebay ad and tried to activate the SIM here in Thailand, but couldn't.  It was cheap to try, so why not.  The two part activation process of setting up your UM online acct where you enter the SIM activation code was no problem, but the step of making that initial connection to a U.S. mobile tower couldn't be completed as Thailand is a little out of range of U.S. mobile towers.   And he called UM customer service who confirmed there is no workaround/overriding the required activation step of initially connecting to a U.S. mobile tower.    Been a few weeks since I last corresponded with this TVF member regarding the UM SIM, but I doubt he's been able to get the UM SIM activated by trying other things.

 

 

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Here's a US Mobile article explaining an eSIM and comparing it to a regular SIM...not really a technical document, but a layman's explanation.   Nice article I think....take a read.

https://www.usmobile.com/blog/esim/

 

But there is one sentence in the article that probably best describes activating an eSIM....see partial quote below which basically says the profile (i.e., programming info) sent from the provisioning system (i.e., provisioning system being the carrier such as US Mobile, T-Mobile, Verizon, Ting, etc) is basically programming the eSIM with the same data as if the carrier had sent you a regular SIM which is already programmed.   

 

And if that eSIM profile reprogramming requires initial connection to the carrier's mobile tower in the U.S. then someone in Thailand trying to receive the eSIM profile would be SOL.    But if they will provide it via Wifi connection then maybe the eSIM would activate unless the carrier still requires an initial connection to a mobile tower to flip the activation switch from off to on.

 

Quote

The provisioning system to send a SIM profile (the same data stored in the physical SIM) into an eSIM slot on her phone.

 

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14 hours ago, Pib said:

@snowdedbyh2o

 

The "TM" Paygo $3 SIM (no longer sold) and "UM" Paygo $3 SIM are two different SIMs.  Yes, both use the TM network but TM and UM are different companies and their SIMs have different capabilities/rules.

 

The UM $3 SIM uses both mobile and Wifi Calling connections, but the TM $3 SIM only uses a  mobile connection.

 

Thank you for clarifying that. I used the link you provided in your other post and ordered a UM PayGo SIM on eBay.

Small price to pay to keep those 2FA codes coming!

I wish banks would just use an authentication app like Authy or google authenticator. Secure and simple. I really like the Authy app since you can have it on multiple devices; phone, computer, tablet, and they all sync. That way if you loose/sell one device, you can still use one of your other devices to recover. Also, the Authy app can be used on any website that accepts the google authenticator.

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7 hours ago, srowndedbyh2o said:

I wish banks would just use an authentication app like Authy or google authenticator. Secure and simple. I really like the Authy app since you can have it on multiple devices; phone, computer, tablet, and they all sync. That way if you loose/sell one device, you can still use one of your other devices to recover. Also, the Authy app can be used on any website that accepts the google authenticator.

I expect it because software security token apps like Authy and Google Authenticator have weaknesses from hacking attacks like Man in the Middle and phishing  attacks.  But these types of attacks can also affect some other methods of 2FA. 

 

Plus I expect banks in general do not want to rely on a free third party authenticator app since they have no control over the app.  Banks generally prefer their own proprietary banking apps that they have total control over....like one of my U.S. banks which has a software security token feature built right into the app (i.e., generates the 2FA code) which negates the need to receive a 2FA code via SMS/email/voice call each time you logon via mbanking or ibanking....a really nice feature. 

 

Plus, for many people, as soon as you start talking the need to load "another" app in order to logon onto your mbanking or ibanking using your mobile or computer browser logon, people's eyes will just roll back in the head due to needing to learn how this other app works, how to care and feed this other app, etc. 

 

 

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21 hours ago, Pib said:

It's not hard to find examples of folks who tried to activate a U.S. number using an eSIM but who were outside the U.S. when trying to activate....like the two folks below trying to activate a Google Fi U.S. number via eSIM....their attempts ended in failure and Google Fi customers service told them they had to activate within the U.S.  with a few exceptions allowed.  As shown below, it was a no-can-do just like what happens with most regular SIMs you insert into a slot when dealing with U.S. mobile numbers.

 

Talks the trying to activate a Google Fi plan using an eSIM.

 

 

In above earlier post I quoted a couple of people on reddit who tried to activate a Google Fi eSIM outside the U.S. and couldn't...and they posted that Google Fi "no longer" allowed activation outside the U.S. except for certain exemptions like military folks assigned overseas.   

 

More googling today found more posts and some posters said they were able to activate a Google Fi eSIM outside the U.S.  But others who tried could not activate even with VPN IP use.....probably due to Google Fi still sensing foreign mobile networks in the phone's area even with a Wifi U.S. VPN connection during the attempted activation process.   

 

And then one poster said Google Fi changed it policy around Dec 2019 which stopped allowing eSIM/SIM activation unless within the U.S.  So, those folks outside the U.S. who were able to activate a Google Fi eSIM probably did it before Dec 2019; and those trying since/after Dec 2019 couldn't.

 

And today I found on the Google Fi support web site a Google Fi rep saying the same thing about eSIM activation outside the U.S. is "no longer allowed" as in it was before but not now.   See link/snapshot below.

 

 

https://support.google.com/fi/thread/47472301?hl=en

image.png.13aa2634aec225dd738429c1a290cc63.png

image.png.5a5710fbce0d183fdf426d83d634a9d6.png

 

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And for those who would prefer to pay a lot more for the Ultramobile $3/month SIM than the $13 charged by the mintmobileadmin Ebay seller, I did find another Ebay seller who is selling it for $35 as of 25 April 2021/today (see link below)....and some people have been buying it...probably those that didn't see the Ebay ad where they cost $13.   

https://www.ebay.com/itm/265031594420?epid=23039768111&hash=item3db51d31b4:g:y0MAAOSwM2BfLD~t

image.png.7641f261f8b4b556e40cd33d8520f3ae.png

 

 

 

But at least the $35 ad has in the product description that it must be activated in the U.S. like the Amazon ad also said when they were still available on Amazon.  See below cut and paste from the $35 Ebay ad talking activation in U.S. required.

image.png.1807af3a0ef814f97818669d859728cf.png

 

 

 

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Pib,Is it possible to post what phone brands you're  currently using that have a USA number assigned to it ?

 

 

Edited by riclag
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On 4/24/2021 at 1:51 AM, NanLaew said:

Due to the recent LinkedIn data scrape my PayPal and some other internet subs have been compromised so I am re-securing account logins and passwords. I gave up my US AT&T mobile number last Fall as the $80/month wasn't worth it but I never followed up on the alternatives in time.

 

As a quick fix, I tried to set up a Google Voice line but that needed a US number for a verification code.

 

I then secured a Skype number, all good but that wasn't accepted as a number for verifying a new Google Voice number setup.

 

The Skype number has been accepted for primary contact for Bank of America and authorization codes were received OK but it doesn't appear to work with the bank's optional 'safepass' system (an extra level of security for certain transactions). I will need to see if it works for PayPal and the others I need to change.

 

In the meantime, my buddy in the US is going to get a 'second line' on his T-Mobile account and after setting it up the same as his one, will send the SIM over here and we'll split the monthly bill. He and others have used their T-Mobile SIM's over here with basic global roaming and sms enabled (no data packages) and it wasn't an expensive add-on like bloody AT&T's was. Once I get that SIM over here, I will set up the Google Voice account. Covering all bases and if it all works, I can drop the Skype one since it costs money.


 

 

You can also have your friend get that SIM card and pop it into his phone.  You can then set up GV on your phone with the activation code sent to his phone.  You just need to coordinate so he can tell you that code.

 

Once you've got GV activated on your Google account you can remove the US SIM card from the account and then cancel the extra line.

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19 minutes ago, riclag said:

Pib,Is it possible to post what phone brands you're  currently using that have a USA number assigned to it ?

 

 

All my phones are Samsung.

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22 minutes ago, taxout said:

The real problem with mobile-based 2FA is that it makes loss of your phone an utter disaster, especially if outside the U.S.

 

For SMS 2FA you can always access Google Voice via a web browser.  You can also set GV to forward text messages to an email address.

 

There are a lot of options when it comes to mobile 2FA apps.  Authy is a good option (it can replace Google Authenticator and other similar apps).  And Authy also has Windows/Mac/Linux apps.  https://authy.com/blog/why-is-the-authy-2fa-app-free-for-users/

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We've been through this before here too many times already: GV is simply not reliable when it comes to 2FA. Indeed just this week I couldn't get an SMS on GV I needed while talking with CS, even though when logging in to the website I was getting SMSs no problem.

 

Don't waste your time on GV for 2FA. It'll fail just when you need it.

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45 minutes ago, taxout said:

We've been through this before here too many times already: GV is simply not reliable when it comes to 2FA. Indeed just this week I couldn't get an SMS on GV I needed while talking with CS, even though when logging in to the website I was getting SMSs no problem.

 

Don't waste your time on GV for 2FA. It'll fail just when you need it.

Spot on about the GV!

 

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5 hours ago, Pib said:

All my phones are Samsung.

Silly me forgot to ask what models ,Sam has a slue of them 555

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Yeap....I'm now up to three financial/bank related accounts (i.e., like bank accts) where GV use to work for 2FA but doesn't anymore....and this change occurred over the last 18 months or so where VOIP-based numbers like GV, TextNow, MagicJack, etc., no longer work to receive 2FA tokens from certain organizations/accounts.

 

And when it comes to "banks" that support software tokens, that is, software token apps like Authy and Google Authenticator, few banks support software tokens (none of my half dozen or so U.S. banks do); instead, most rely on tokens via SMS and many still offering tokens via email or voice call also....or software token via only  via their proprietary mbanking app.   But there are other types of organizations that offer software token use.   

 

Everyone will have a different experience in what type of 2FA is offered by their accounts....so, so many different types of accounts provided by so, so many different types of organizations.   For a person who don't have many accts requiring 2FA they may get lucky and GV will work for 2FA tokens on all of their accounts....or maybe they have a half dozen or more bank accounts and all of those particular banks still allow VOIP-based numbers to be used for 2FA--lucky you!!!....it all depends on the bank/account you happen to have.   

 

Take a look at this 2factorauth.org website that tracks what organizations that use 2FA and what type of 2FA used.  I'm sure it's not 100% accurate but I expect the info is well within the ballpark.  The link below will take you to the "banking" section. The "software token" column means tokens generated by apps like Authy and Google Authenticator.

https://2fa.directory/us/#banking 

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47 minutes ago, taxout said:

We've been through this before here too many times already: GV is simply not reliable when it comes to 2FA. Indeed just this week I couldn't get an SMS on GV I needed while talking with CS, even though when logging in to the website I was getting SMSs no problem.

 

Don't waste your time on GV for 2FA. It'll fail just when you need it.


GV has been 100% reliable for me (as in, I've always gotten messages that were expected).

 

To clarify... the app sometimes doesn't notify you of a 2FA SMS but if you log in to  https://voice.google.com/ you can see it?

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2 minutes ago, riclag said:

Silly me forgot to ask what models ,Sam has a slue of them 555

A8+(2018), S4, and A11.  

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5 minutes ago, Pib said:

Yeap....I'm now up to three financial/bank related accounts (i.e., like bank accts) where GV use to work for 2FA but doesn't anymore....and this change occurred over the last 18 months or so where VOIP-based numbers like GV, TextNow, MagicJack, etc., no longer work to receive 2FA tokens from certain organizations/accounts.

 

That sounds more like it's a financial/bank institution issue than a GV/TextNow/MagicJack problem.

 

Thank you for that https://2fa.directory/ link!  Very useful. 

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Just now, asiacurious said:

 

That sounds more like it's a financial/bank institution issue than a GV/TextNow/MagicJack problem.

 

Thank you for that https://2fa.directory/ link!  Very useful. 

Yeap, it's their issue as they decided not to allow their 2FA short codes to be sent to VOIP-based numbers like GV.    GV can't receive what don't get sent.

 

And no, the 2FA code does not arrive GV even when you check your GV acct/inbox at https://voice.google.com.

 

You've just been lucky so far with the particular accts you have. 

 

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And keep in mind it easy for an organization to determine if a number is VOIP, mobile, or landline number thru various ways as each phone number has underlying coding/registration as to what type it is.  

 

Heck, there are public sites where you can check yourself like the one TallGuyJohninBKK identified back in his 9 Jan 2021 post in this thread.  While these public sites may not be 100% accurate they sure were for my various phones number....like my GV numbers being listed as VOIP numbers.....see below post and the ensuring ones.  And I'm sure the methods organizations such as banks use to determine if a mobile number is really a mobile number versus a VOIP or landline number are more accurate/up to date.

 

 

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I've been looking at getting the UM Paygo sim, but it's really frustrating that UM is not open at all about the cost of the sim. It seems to be $10 plus $3 for the first month's service, but UM never says that anywhere. That's a business practice that turns me off.

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US Mobile seems like a good option, and they do offer WiFi calling.

 

Just make sure you include enough SMSes when you build your plan.

 

I use ~ 90-ish 2FA SMSes per month - I use at least two every day - and thankfully GV continues to work for these, and all my other (15-ish applications). The 2FA 
"Call Me" option works well with GV too.

 

I do have T-Mo (roaming), Talkatone and soon, UM all as options.

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