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Re: [tlug] OT: Does sim-jacking happen in Japan?

On Tue, 15 Mar 2022 at 15:53, Edmund Edgar <> wrote:

I often hear stories about people losing control of their phone numbers to fraudsters who talk the helpful customer service people at their phone company into letting them take over the number. The fraudster can then run amok resetting everything. However, I don't think I ever hear about these stories in Japan, which I guess has a slightly more solid standard process for transferring a number than - say - the US.

Japan does have MNP (mobile number portability) and the process to transfer a number is standardised across all service providers. 

First you need to obtain a token in the form of a reference number from your current service provider. Then you have 15 days to use that token while you sign up for a new service with another service provider. This can be done online or in-store, but in any event you need to have government issued ID in order to sign up. If the token is not used to sign up elsewhere within the 15 days validity period, it simply expires and nothing happens. The phone service is only switched over to the new service provider once the new service provider has verified the customer's ID and started the provisioning of the service.

Even the government issued ID that is acceptable is limited to a few options, such as a residency card in the case of a non-Japanese, or a passport or MyNumber card (issued by the local municipality office) in the case of a Japanese national. Most service providers will even refuse to sign you up if you do not have a credit card in the exact same name and spelling as on your government issued ID.

And the Japanese are rule followers. You cannot talk the customer service representative of any Japanese company into doing anything that is not in their rule book. This is often a problem when minor issues arise that could be easily fixed by some flexibility. The Japanese customer service representatives are knuckleheaded, they will not ever do anything outside of what they have expressly been taught. In this particular case, this adds to the security.

I am not aware of any process by which a service provider would allow any of their customers to transfer a number to another person. Maybe this is possible via the MNP process if the transferee is a family member, but I would expect this to already become complicated. I doubt there is any process to transfer a number to somebody else who is not a family member. I could be wrong of course, maybe there is such a process, but if there is, I would expect it to be extremely cumbersome and requiring lots of additional paperwork.

The Japanese have a herd mentality, they prefer to follow the crowd. And this means Japanese companies do not usually think about special cases. They think in great detail about the standard case that is designed for the crowd, and anything outside of that is going to be next to impossible to do.


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