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I'm in France for a month, and I got a local SIM card to avoid paying very high international roaming rates from my home carrier.

However, I often need to receive SMS messages from various companies, banks, PayPal, my ISP, etc. so I can do business things while traveling (this is a working vacation for me).

I have an app on my computer that can see most text messages that I get, but I have discovered that SMS messages sent from short code numbers are not visible. They also don't seem to be possible to forward via various services I've looked into.

It's not really an option for me to port my US number to another carrier (like Google Voice) for just one month away from home. (I'm not becoming a digital nomad, just leaving the country for longer than usual.)

Is there any way to be able to receive or forward these messages so that I can receive them on my French phone number or else on my computer?

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    Is your foreign SIM Card active? You can't receive SMS if you have switched your card off. – Rg7x gW6a cQ3g Jul 24 '19 at 14:01
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    This might be more appropriate on Super User? I'm not saying it's off-topic here, but it sounds like you need computer expertise rather than travel expertise. If you don't get a good answer here, consider asking for migration. – David Richerby Jul 24 '19 at 14:08
  • It's active, yes. I have taken the US sim card out of the phone entirely. I realize that receiving them in the standard way would require switching the cards. But I don't want to do that anyway because of the roaming charges. – Joshua Frank Jul 24 '19 at 14:08
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    @DavidRicherby: It's a technical question, but almost entirely travel related, as I would never need to do this if I weren't traveling. – Joshua Frank Jul 24 '19 at 14:09
  • @JoshuaFrank I'm just suggesting somewhere where you might get better answers. – David Richerby Jul 24 '19 at 14:12
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There are three options which may or may not work well for you:

Forwarding

You keep your US phone back home in the US and try to have SMS messages forwarded while travelling. You will need to make sure your phone stays connected while you are away, though that shouldn't be too difficult.

In order to have SMS forwarded somehow, either your operator has an option to do so. I understand Verizon does, but it works only partially.

So you might try and put an app on your phone which will forward incoming SMS messages to email or any other phone. Note the difference between your phone doing the forwarding or your operator doing a cc of any of your SMS for you to some app over the Internet.

N.B.: It might be by full purpose that certain types of SMS are not forwarded to the app on your PC for security reasons.

What will make your life difficult is that Google decided pretty recently to ban a lot of SMS forwarder apps from their Playstore. Again as a mean to prevent fraud and enhace security. This will lead to the fact that you may find lots of "how to forward SMS" articles on the Internet, just you will not find the apps mentioned anymore.

There are some still / again available but I found many of them not quite fit for the job. For example, some of them don't work well with your phone's power management. You unused phone will go to sleep at some point and will not get waked up far enough for the forwarding app to forward the SMS once it arrives. Some apps need 10-15 minutes to forward, which is next to useless for SMS that are confirmations which are valid only for 5 minutes.

Your milage may vary ... The problem is that by the time you may find out it doesn't work as expected there is literally an ocean between your and your US phone.

Take your US phone (or SIM) with you

In a comment you say Verizon will charge you 10 USD a day if you roam. But I understand this will be the case if you want to use your minutes and US data in Europe, which is not at all what you want. You just want to receive SMS messages.

So do not buy any "traveller plan" or anything but just make sure roaming as such is enabled on your US sim card in case it isn't by default. Make sure you do not switch on data roaming on your US phone while in Europe. I assume you will not incurr any charges than but you will receive your SMS messages.

Buying any non-smart cheap GSM phone to put your US SIM in (like a Nokia 105 or 3310 for example) and you have a perfect SMS receiver device and can use your french SIM in your Android phone.

  • Agreed. I don't know about Verizon, but most carriers also have a "pay if you use it" international plan, which is usually the default if you don't choose an international roaming plan. You don't pay any daily rate to connect to the network, you only pay if you send or receive calls/SMS/data. The per-message rate is higher, but if you're only using it infrequently, this is probably the better option. – Mike Harris Jul 25 '19 at 12:01
  • @MikeHarris: I can just turn on my US/Verizon phone, take it off airplane mode, and receive the message, but then I'm paying $10 to receive that message. I don't mind paying per use, but it's annoying to pay $10 for 100 minutes of talk time, 500 SMS messages, and 500MB just so I can read 50 bytes of one SMS message :-( – Joshua Frank Jul 25 '19 at 13:51
  • @MikeHarris: IOW, they don't seem to have a micro-plan, where you pay, say $1 just to receive a few text messages. $10 isn't a huge sum, but it will add up.... – Joshua Frank Jul 25 '19 at 13:51
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    I'm not familiar with Verizon, but most carriers do not charge you roaming fees to receive SMS (which are not under your control after all), only to send them. Check the small print for the roaming package. – lambshaanxy Jul 26 '19 at 1:15
  • @jpatokal: they may not charge a fee to receive the message itself, but I don't think I can receive it without turning off airplane mode on the phone, which will then allow the phone to access the network and I'll be charged for THAT. But this is an interesting idea. Let me ask Verizon about it. – Joshua Frank Jul 26 '19 at 6:52
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The Verizon Message+ app will let you send and receive text messages from any computer or phone, even when the phone does not have the SIM card for your Verizon service. It uses an Internet connection, so it does not incur any additional costs.

If you don't want to install an app, you can also send and receive SMS from the Verizon web site.

  • I use this app all the time, but it doesn't seem to support messages sent by short code numbers, which is what they mostly use to send authentication messages. The web site is the same AND it requires an authentication message to log in. – Joshua Frank Jul 26 '19 at 6:49
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    Well, beyond the immediate problem, you should be getting as many of these services as possible to STOP sending you text messages for authentication. They are not safe and not considered a secure method of two factor authentication. Switch to something secure, like a TOTP authenticator app, if your services support it. If they don't, yell at them for being stupid, especially if they're banks. – Michael Hampton Jul 26 '19 at 16:26
  • I think this is a very good point. During this extended stay abroad, I've had massive inconvenience trying to do basic things, but also a certain amount of success, which has made me wonder how much of this could have been done by a hacker, carefully bootstrapping from one piece of information to another. – Joshua Frank Jul 27 '19 at 11:13
  • @JoshuaFrank Attacks on SMS authentication are common, easily understood, and poorly defended against. Search the Internet for "sim swap" and you'll soon want to go re-secure everything you have. – Michael Hampton Jul 27 '19 at 18:03
  • Thanks for the warning. I'm going to see how much success I have changing my service providers' ways. I'm not expecting much from the big corporations, sadly.... – Joshua Frank Jul 28 '19 at 7:56

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