How to manage your Vodacom SIM card

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Your SIM card gives you access to Vodacom’s network, making it a lifeline to making and receiving calls, accessing the internet, and your OTPs from your banks and other services.

With this guide you will learn the different ways managing your Vodacom SIM card and how to keep it safe from fraudulent activities.

Activate your SIM card

If you’ve bought a new Vodacom SIM card but when you insert it into your phone or router it does not work you might have to activate it.

Why your SIM card is not active

Most, if not all, retailers will RICA your new SIM card if you buy a new starter pack from them. This includes a data SIM card. There are retailers like takealot that sell SIM starter packs without a RICA process. In such a case your SIMA card will not be active when you receive it.

SIM cards from South African networks operators
SIM cards from South African networks operators

Your SIM card might not work because:

1. It has not been registered using the RICA process

Do a self-RICA through the Vodacom ToBi bot on the Vodacom app, or RICA it at a Vodacom store. Since SIM cards are so cheap you can go to a retailer like Checkers

2. It is not yet active on the Vodacom network

If you have registered for RICA you will have to wait a few hours to 48 hours before it is active on the network. If it takes longer then activate your SIM card using this process. In the meantime, your Vodacom phone will show no service.

3. Your cellphone number has expired

If your cellphone has not been active on the Vodacom network for more than 100 days it will be recycled out and deleted.

4. Your cellphone number has not had a qualifying activity

Your cellphone number will be deleted if it hasn’t had a qualifying SIM activity.

Activate your SIM card

A SIM card that you receive with your new contract phone or router will be given to you after a RICA process. This is because the network service provider has all your documents that are required for RICA.

To activate a contract SIM card simply insert it into your phone, dial 100, and follow the instructions.

To activate a data SIM card insert it into your device and wait for it to get recognized on the Vodacom network. This often takes about 2 hours, but it should take less than 48 hours. If after 48 hours it is not active then insert it into your phone, dial 100, and follow the instructions.

Change your SIM card PIN

The steps to take if you want to change your SIM card PIN are based on the type of device you will use to change it.

You may want to change your SIM card’s PIN because you want to use the old one, or change the one you received with your SIM card starter pack, as a security measure.

Change a SIM card PIN on an Android phone

To change your SIM card’s PIN number on any Android device like a Samsung smartphone or Huawei tablet is:

  • Slide your finger from the top and open Settings from the top tray
  • In Settings, type in the Search Settings box “Change SIM PIN”
  • Tap and open the menu item “Change SIM PIN”
  • In Change SIM PIN, tap the Change SIM PIN menu item
  • Put in your old SIM PIN number
  • Enter your new SIM PIN number, and then tap OK to accept
  • Retype the SIM PIN number, and then tap OK to accept
  • Your SIM PIN number has now been updated
Search for “change SIM PIN” in your phone’s settings. Screenshot: Xiaomi Redmi, Android 13 OS.

Change a SIM card PIN on Apple iPhone

To change your SIM PIN number on your Apple iPhone or Apple iPad:

  • Open Settings
  • In Settings, scroll to the Mobile Data menu item
  • In the Mobile Data, tap Change PIN
  • Put in your old SIM PIN number
  • Enter your new SIM PIN number, and then tap OK to accept
  • Retype the SIM PIN number, and then tap OK to accept
  • Your SIM PIN number has now been updated
Where to change your SIM PIN on your Apple iPhone. Screenshot: Apple iPhone 14.

Change a SIM card PIN on a WiFi router

To change your Vodacom SIM card’s PIN number you can log into your mobile router’s IP address, or put the SIM card into your phone and then follow the change the PIN number using the above steps for an Apple iPhone or Android phone.

To change your SIM card’s PIN number by logging into a Vodafone WiFi router:

  • Go to your Vodafone WiFi’s home page
  • Under the Main menu item, scroll to SIM PIN
  • Under the SIM PIN menu item, select disable PIN

Remove a SIM card PIN

Your Vodacom SIM card is required to access the internet or to make calls on Vodacom’s network. Your SIM card’s PIN is a security measure to manage its use. If your SIM card is locked it will not access the internet or receive calls. You will need to unlock it using its PIN number to start using it.

You may also want to remove your SIM PIN because it causes you an inconvenience or you want to put it into a device that does not allow you to put it in a SIM PIN. You can go around this process of entering your PIN number by removing your SIM card’s PIN number.

It’s also useful to remove a SIM PIN on a work phone for employees who share a cell phone.

Remove a SIM card PIN on an Android phone

To remove your Vodacom SIM card’s PIN number on any Android device like a Samsung Galaxy tablet:

  • Slide your finger from the top and open Settings from the top tray
  • In Settings, type in the Search Settings box “SIM card”
  • Tap and open the menu item “Lock SIM card”
  • In Lock SIM card, slide the Lock SIM card item
  • Put in your SIM PIN number and then tap OK to accept
  • Your phone or Android device now does not require a SIM PIN number when you use it

Remove a SIM card PIN on an Apple iPhone

To remove your SIM PIN number from an Apple iPhone or Apple iPad:

  • Open Settings
  • In Settings, scroll to the Mobile Data menu item
  • In the Mobile Data, tap Change PIN
  • Slide to unlock SIM PIN number
  • Enter your SIM PIN number, and then tap OK to accept
  • Your SIM PIN number has now been removed

Replace your SIM card by doing a SIM swap

A SIM swap is a process of changing your SIM card but staying with the same cellphone number as before. Essentially, all your cellphone number get removed from the old SIM card and get linked to this new SIM card.

Vodacom will move your airtime, data, and other balances together with your cellphone number. However, they cannot move things like your contacts, SMS messages, or PIN/PUK number.

You may need to do a SIM swap because your SIM card is damaged, no longer working because it’s too old, you no longer have it due to theft, is misplaced, or it just needs to be changed because it is not compatible with your new smartphone.

How to do a SIM swap

To do a SIM swap call Vodacom on 135 or use the Vodacom app to chat to the Vodacom ToBi bot.

  • Buy a new SIM card from a retailer like PEPCell or Checkers
  • RICA the SIM card at the same place you buy it as it is simpler for you. Or, you can RICA it yourself at home
  • Call Vodacom 135, or chat to the ToBi bot
  • Have your SIM card’s number ready. It start with 89
  • Answer any security questions from Vodacom to ascertain you’re the true owner of the cellphone number.

How to avoid SIM swap fraud

Vodacom follows its steps strictly when their customers need to do a SIM swap. This is because fraudsters often want to gain access to your messages by doing a SIM swap and taking over your cellphone number. They then can get access to the OTP messages you receive from your bank or email.

To help mitigate SIM swap fraud:

  • If you receive an SMS from Vodacom notifying you of a request to do a SIM swap that you did not make immediately call Vodacom on 135 and tell them to cancel any request for a SIM swap
  • Never give your OTP to anyone who calls you and says they need an OTP sent to you. If you did not make the call yourself it’s probable fraudsters.
  • Where possible, request to receive your OTP through your Gmail for your banking.
  • Beware of SMS messages that say there was a security breach. It might be a phishing SMS. Be careful of clicking on links in your SMS messages.
  • If you need assistance with a SIM swap only allow trusted members of your family to assist you. Or, go to a Vodacom store with your ID document and proof of residence for assistance.
  • Don’t allow those cellphone shops that fix your phone on the street to do a SIM swap for you. Don’t buy your SIM card from those shops either, no matter how quick and easy it seems.

Vodacom SIM swap security questions

The SIM swap security questions from Vodacom are auto-generated and are never the same. When you do a SIM swap at the Vodacom store you will still have to answer security questions. But, security questions for users on contract can include:

  • How do you pay your Vodacom account?
  • When is your debit order date?
  • How do you receive your Vodacom statements?
  • Which email address is used to send your Vodacom invoice?
  • Which bank and type of account does Vodacom debit from?

Change your SIM card to an eSIM

With the advancement of eSIM technology, your Apple iPhone is now a dual-SIM phone that can use a regular nano SIM card and an eSIM.

Swap out your nano SIM card and link your eSIM instead.

If you’ve got a SIM-only data contract you can apply for an eSIM with Vodacom and then do a SIM swap on your SIM card.

FAQs

Should I remove my SIM card PIN?

It poses a risk to remove your SIM card’s PIN, but it may be easier for you to not enter your SIM PIN every time. It is only recommended you do so if you can quickly block its use, or if you are the only one with access to use it (e.g., you leave it at your office at work).

I forgot my Vodacom SIM PIN

If you’ve forgotten your SIM PIN but you have your PUK number you can reset your PIN by intentionally blocking your PIN. Block it by putting in the wrong PIN number 3 times in a row and it will block its use. It will then require you to unblock your SIM card using your PUK number. Put in your PUK number and then choose a new SIM PIN.

Has Vodacom deleted my number?

It takes 100 days of inactivity on the Vodacom network before your number is deleted and then eventually recycled. It may be deleted if in those 100 days you haven’t:

  • Made any calls using your airtime
  • Recharged with at least R12
  • Sent an SMS using your airtime
  • OR, if you haven’t gone online using your data

Can I use the same SIM card after Vodacom has deleted my number?

No, Vodacom recycles and deletes the number AND the SIM. You can’t reactivate it or use it again. You will have to purchase a new SIM card, RICA it, and activate it.

Can I use my MTN SIM card in my Vodacom router?

Yes, if your router is network unlocked you can use your MTN SIM card, or from any other network, to access the internet using your Vodafone WiFi router. If your MTN SIM card is not working in the router call Vodacom and check if the router is network locked. If it is network locked Vodacom can send you a network unlock code to unlock the WiFi router.

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