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Thread: Tracfone phone and SIM rules questions

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    Tracfone phone and SIM rules questions

    I was recently advised from another user that Tracfone has weird rules for how their phones and SIMs are treated.

    It was suggested that the SIM **must** remain with the phone that came with it, and if you sell the phone, you must keep the SIM with that phone and include it in the sale.

    So I have questions:

    If you have 2 Tracfones with separate account balances, can you share 2 sims with a single primary phone device to use different phone numbers and balances/expiration dates?

    If you lose or damage the "original" paired sim, or it becomes buggy, what do you do to re-enable your account?

    If the phone is unlocked, can you pop in an alternate carrier sim and then put the original TF sim back in with no issues or lockouts?

    Is it true that you must furnish the original SIM to the buyer if you sell the phone? If yes, then what happens to your phone number, balance, account, and history/data?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mo832 View Post
    So I have questions:

    1. If you have 2 Tracfones with separate account balances, can you share 2 sims with a single primary phone device to use different phone numbers and balances/expiration dates?

    2. If you lose or damage the "original" paired sim, or it becomes buggy, what do you do to re-enable your account?

    3. If the phone is unlocked, can you pop in an alternate carrier sim and then put the original TF sim back in with no issues or lockouts?

    4. Is it true that you must furnish the original SIM to the buyer if you sell the phone? If yes, then what happens to your phone number, balance, account, and history/data?
    The basic rule is: For a TF-sold phone, the SIM and the phone's IMEI are paired together in TF system. Swap the SIM to another phone and you'll run into problems. The problems are reported before in the forum, I won't go through them again.

    1. No.
    2. If the original SIM is lost or unusable, in the old days you contact TF and they'll FedEx overnight a replacement SIM which is paired to the IMEI before shipping. Nowadays, a rep will tell you to go buy a TF BYOP SIM Kit and they'll pair the new SIM to the phone.
    3. You can remove the original SIM, put in a SIM that does not use Verizon, and go back to the original SIM later without problem. If you put in a SIM that uses Verizon, it'll likely gets paired automatically to the phone's IMEI and displace/inactivate the original SIM. If the original SIM still has service on it, it will lose that service.
    4. Before selling a TF-sold phone, transfer its service (phone number, buckets, days) to another phone if you're not selling the service with the phone. If its service already expired, there's nothing to lose, your phone number on the SIM will be overwritten when the new owner reactivates the phone with a new number. If you're really worried about the new owner using your phone number, then sell the phone without the original SIM and tell the buyer that he/she will need to get a new BYOP SIM and have the rep pair it to the phone. That will probably turn off some buyers.

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    I think people would actually want to start fresh and not have someone else's creepy sim in there with unknown information on it.

    I have found sims a couple of times and wondered what are those people thinking security-wise.

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    "3. You can remove the original SIM, put in a SIM that does not use Verizon, and go back to the original SIM later without problem. If you put in a SIM that uses Verizon, it'll likely gets paired automatically to the phone's IMEI and displace/inactivate the original SIM. If the original SIM still has service on it, it will lose that service."

    --------

    OK, so if I wanted to rotate in another sim from a Verizon service (e.g. US Mobile), and keep the TF account/plan intact.... what would be a way to do this? Even if the phone is unlocked it will bump out the TF sim?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mo832 View Post
    OK, so if I wanted to rotate in another sim from a Verizon service (e.g. US Mobile), and keep the TF account/plan intact.... what would be a way to do this? Even if the phone is unlocked it will bump out the TF sim?
    I don't have a definite answer for that scenario because I don't know how tightly (or at all) Verizon enforces the pairing of SIM and IMEI on US Mobile.

    With TF/Verizon (even before Verizon bought TF in Nov 2021), the pairing is tightly enforced. When you put a TF/Verizon SIM into another phone, 4 things can and have happened:
    1. When you try to make a call, there's a message saying "Please put the SIM back into the phone it was registered with to restore service".
    2. Your service is shut down. You have to call TF and listen to a scolding from the TF rep, promise not to do it again, before the rep will restore your service.
    3. In some cases, let's say you're putting SIM A into phone B even for a brief moment, SIM A gets auto-paired to phone B's IMEI. That will displace and deactivate SIM B. When you put the SIMs back into their original phones, SIM B no longer works because it had been deactivated.
    4. This is a bad one. A forum member bought a TF-branded phone bundled with 1-yr and 1xxx/1xxx/1.xGB. Before activating that phone, she put an active TF/Verizon SIM into the phone to do some testing. TF auto-paired that SIM to the phone and deactivated the phone's original SIM, causing the 1-yr and buckets to be completely lost.

    Does US Mobile require you to provide the IMEI of the phone when activating a BYOP SIM on US Mobile/Verizon? If yes, do they enforce that pairing? Can you swap a US Mobile/Verizon SIM into another phone without problems?

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    Well, I don't know this in depth, but anecdotally, I had a Verizon branded home base phone, and before buying a SIM for it, for testing, I put in a Straight Talk Verizon SIM and it turned on and showed 4G LTE and made a call. Both phones were locked to Verizon. Later I got a US Mobile (verizon network) SIM and used it in the base phone. Some time after that, the base was having hardware problems, so I bought ANOTHER identical base used/refurb, and plugged in the US Mobile SIM and it worked just like before without skipping a beat.

    So by the above experiences, it appears that in at least those cases, the various Verizon MVNO Sims were interchangeable on Verizon branded locked devices.

    They do ask for the IMEI when signing up, but I don't know that they pair it. I think it is to determine if the phone is compatible with the network.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mo832 View Post
    They do ask for the IMEI when signing up, but I don't know that they pair it. I think it is to determine if the phone is compatible with the network.
    If US Mobile/Verizon doesn't attempt to auto-pair its SIM to your TF-branded phone, then you're OK. But if they do, and Verizon uses one IMEI database for all Verizon MVNOs then you COULD run into problems. That's all I can say. Perhaps someone who knows more about the internal working of carriers can chime it.

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    If the SIM de-activates due to your SIM swapping mistake(s) can you handle losing the talk/text/data/days of service/phone number?
    Verizon is notorious for re-issuing de-activated phone numbers extremely quickly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tracfancier View Post
    If the SIM de-activates due to your SIM swapping mistake(s) can you handle losing the talk/text/data/days of service/phone number?
    Verizon is notorious for re-issuing de-activated phone numbers extremely quickly.
    Given all of this confusion and lack of clarity, I guess the best policy is follow the rule of thumb that you stay with TF only until you decide to cancel TF, then you can play around with the handset. Keep the handset dedicated to TF or non-Verizon options until you no longer have TF service.

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    I have LG K31 from Tracfone (VZN) as my main phone. Recently I signed up with Safelink (service provided by Tracfone) and they gave me the phone Moto G Pure. Since Moto Pure is much nicer phone than LG K31 from Tracfone, I decided to swap SIMS between these two phones and had no problems so far, including Hotspoting. Now Moto is my main phone, and LG on Safelink.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony_D View Post
    I have LG K31 from Tracfone (VZN) as my main phone. Recently I signed up with Safelink (service provided by Tracfone) and they gave me the phone Moto G Pure. Since Moto Pure is much nicer phone than LG K31 from Tracfone, I decided to swap SIMS between these two phones and had no problems so far, including Hotspoting. Now Moto is my main phone, and LG on Safelink.
    If you swapped sims between those phones without doing a transfer of service you are asking for trouble. Don't be surprised if your service gets suspended.
    I use Safelink, and several months ago I swapped sims without doing a proper transfer and my service got deactivated. I had to call to see what was wrong and they told me sim swapping wasn't allowed if your running on Verizon towers. I got lectured and had to promise to do a proper transfer next time before they would reactivate my service.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NanaC View Post
    If you swapped sims between those phones without doing a transfer of service you are asking for trouble. Don't be surprised if your service gets suspended.
    I use Safelink, and several months ago I swapped sims without doing a proper transfer and my service got deactivated. I had to call to see what was wrong and they told me sim swapping wasn't allowed if your running on Verizon towers. I got lectured and had to promise to do a proper transfer next time before they would reactivate my service.
    How long was it when service got deactivated from the SIM swap?

    Mine has been a month since the swap. I also don't have online account with Tracfone or Safelink. So neither of them are registered online.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony_D View Post
    How long was it when service got deactivated from the SIM swap?

    Mine has been a month since the swap. I also don't have online account with Tracfone or Safelink. So neither of them are registered online.
    Mine service got deactivated in about 3 weeks after the swap.

    If your running on Verizon towers TracFone/Safelink knows which phone the sim in being used in, the sim is registered/paired to the phone your using it in. You may be ok now, but if you want to stay safe, don't swap the sims again.

    Also when you swapped the sims you ruined the chance of getting the Moto G Pure unlocked after 60 days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NanaC View Post
    Mine service got deactivated in about 3 weeks after the swap.

    If your running on Verizon towers TracFone/Safelink knows which phone the sim in being used in, the sim is registered/paired to the phone your using it in. You may be ok now, but if you want to stay safe, don't swap the sims again.

    Also when you swapped the sims you ruined the chance of getting the Moto G Pure unlocked after 60 days.
    Thanks for advice

    I think I will swap the sim and put the original Safelink SIM back in Moto Pure since I definitely want to unlock it. Two months ago I did received a notice from Safelink that Moto is probably eligible for unlocking. I couldn't believe Safelink unlock their phones only after 60 days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony_D View Post
    Thanks for advice

    I think I will swap the sim and put the original Safelink SIM back in Moto Pure since I definitely want to unlock it. Two months ago I did received a notice from Safelink that Moto is probably eligible for unlocking. I couldn't believe Safelink unlock their phones only after 60 days.
    If you want to see if the TF sim is paired to the Moto text FOUR to 611611. If it comes back with the last 4 of the TF sim its been paired to that phone and the chance to unlock the Moto has probably been ruined.

    The 60 day unlock policy went into effect after Verizon bought TracFone.

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