Airtight ID protection and loads of unique features for your mobile phone for $5 per month
Inside:“Granting admin control to a third-party app, even one you trust, can be a little scary, but it’s how Lookout wipes your phone (even if it’s dead and out of batteries!) in the event of theft. The feature is called Signal Flare, and how cool is that?”
We all know the feeling: You weren’t paying attention and tapped a link in a text that looked perfectly credible. But was it actually, or did that errant click give a hacker full control of your phone? Is he watching you as we speak?
A well-made phishing attack can catch just about anybody off guard, and phishing isn’t the only cybercrime that has gotten scarier since the pandemic struck. More than 60% of online payment fraud now happens on mobile phones.1 Two types of attack, one outcome: a fraudster has all the data they need to take control of your identity.
A cheap, lightweight identity-theft-protection service with a focus on mobile devices makes a lot of sense, but is it enough to steer you away from the more well-rounded ID-monitoring plans?
Lookout Protection says yes. We’re going to put its claims to the test with a detailed breakdown of Lookout’s pricing, plans, and special features.
Did You Know? Lookout doesn’t offer family plans, but several of our favorite ID-theft-protection services do. If you have a whole family to keep cybercrime-free, check out our Top 5 Identity Theft Protection Plans for Families.
Lookout Protection’s plans are so refreshingly simple I actually did a double take. Where’s the third plan tier? The monthly vs. annual fees? The disclaimers and add-ons? I didn’t have to worry about any of that with Lookout, and I appreciated it more than I can say.
You will notice, as I did, that Lookout’s $59.99 Premium Plus + plan comes with identity protection, so that’s the plan I’d recommend. The price difference is negligible, and the trouble you can get into with ID fraud is huge.
If you’re only looking to keep fraudsters off your phone, for $29.99 you can secure your mobile with Lookout’s Premium Protection plan. That will put a fence around your emails and texts, scan untrusted Wi-Fi networks when you’re on the go, comb the dark web for data breaches involving your personal info, and give you a first-rate malware blocker and VPN.
Lookout will also make it very difficult for a flesh-and-blood thief to steal your phone because it comes with some first-rate antitheft features, which I’ll unpack below. If you’re invested in a top Android VPN — and you want to hold onto your Android device until it dies of natural causes — these features alone may be worth the price of admission.
|Premium Plus +
Lookout splits its protections neatly down the line. On one side you have mobile security and privacy features, which batten down your phone. These come with both plans. On the other side, you have ID monitoring (and theft restitution), which keeps watch over your personally identifiable information, such as your Social Security and driver’s license numbers, bank accounts, credit cards, and social media accounts. ID monitoring is included only with Lookout’s Premium Plus + plan.
Did You Know? If you’re shopping for comprehensive ID and malware protection for both mobile and desktop, Norton 360 with LifeLock plans are a popular alternative.
Dividing those protections may make it look like ID theft monitoring is an extra add-on, but I wouldn’t look at it that way. Fraudsters out to swipe your sensitive data have countless avenues of attack and your phone is only one endpoint, so it’s better to shore up your personal details at the source with full ID monitoring.
Still, Lookout’s suite of mobile protections on the base plan are pretty impressive.
|Premium Plus +
|Malware, antivirus and software security
|Data breach monitor
|Email, text message and web protection
|Wi-Fi scan and alerts
Once you give it permission, Lookout will keep watch over all your apps, files, and even the websites you visit, scanning, identifying and reporting real-time threats. Be prepared for a shock when you see how many sites you visit daily. (I visited 106 the last time I checked, and that was a slow morning.)
If you toggle on Safe Browsing, Lookout silos and encrypts any data you send or receive on your mobile phone within a virtual private network (VPN). This is an extra layer of security that makes it almost impossible for lurking hackers to intercept your online transactions no matter where you are.
Pro Tip: When cybersecurity experts talk about “endpoint security,” they’re talking about security systems that protect end-user devices such as laptops, desktops, and mobile devices.
We give permissions to mobile apps all the time, to access our photos, locations, and even our data. Once we give those permissions, we rarely revisit our choices. Lookout’s Privacy Advisor is a permissions dashboard where you can pull up, view, and adjust all the permissions on your phone in one place. This is a pretty clever incentive for users to get more proactive about their digital hygiene. Considering that 21 apps on my phone had access to my microphone, it looks like I needed the nudge.
Taking all this mobile security as a whole, Lookout can feel like a very sophisticated VPN. (For $5 per month, it’s actually cheaper than a lot of VPNs we’ve reviewed.) There’s just one catch: You can’t use Lookout on your desktop or laptop, which will be a dealbreaker for many of us thinking about ditching the cross-device VPNs we already have.
True or False: A lot of us have been in uncanny situations in which Facebook feeds us an ad for a product we were just talking about. Is it accessing our microphones to listen in? Probably not. It’s just using massive troves of data and location tracking to tempt us with what should statistically catch our interest.
|Premium Plus +
|Identity and financial account monitoring
|Lost or stolen wallet assistance
|$1 million of identity theft insurance
|24/7 live identity theft expert support
Moving on to ID-theft monitoring on the Premium Plus + plan, Lookout’s protections are basic but they cover most of the data you want to keep safe. After all, with many top identity theft protection services, you’re not paying for much more than credit card, bank, driver’s license, and social security number monitoring.
The only notable feature missing from Lookout’s Premium Plus + roster is credit report monitoring. And when I say “missing,” I mean nothing, nada. This may be a tough pill to swallow for anyone who’s serious about identity protection.
Identity theft is already a huge thorn in the Federal Trade Commission’s side. How huge? The FTC logs a new theft every 79 seconds.2 A good chunk of those thefts could have been prevented if victims had noticed discrepancies and warning signs in their credit reports, such as a new address, a phantom employer, an unauthorized account they never opened, or simply credit report inquiries they never made. Safeguarding one credit report is risky enough, but none?
Did You Know? The three main credit bureaus in the U.S. are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Your credit report should be the same across the board, but lapses do occur. That’s why, when you’re keeping an eye on your credit, checking all three reports for anomalies is the best protection against fraud.
If it’s any consolation, Lookout shores up one nasty hole in our digital hygiene defenses: unprotected social media accounts.
Imposter scams are real. We’ve seen cases where criminals have hijacked user accounts and then gone door to door to followers and friends stitching together bits of their victims’ identities until they had enough of a picture to pose as them in real life, taking out lines of credit or — very popular these days — applying for tax relief in their names.
Lookout will alert you when it detects suspicious social activity. It will also give you a heads-up when your name or handle pops up in less-than-flattering posts so you can jump in for damage control. We liked this feature when we reviewed Allstate’s comprehensive ID Protection plans for families, and we liked it here too.
FYI: As far back as 2015, Facebook was already reporting that 31 million of its active accounts were fake. Fast forward to 2020 and that number ballooned to 1.8 billion.3
I purchased my Lookout Premium Plus + plan on my desktop. You may want to purchase it on the mobile device you’re going to use it with because I had a bumpy ride jockeying from one device to another. Once I figured it out and tried the whole process again from my mobile phone, it was smooth sailing.
Registering for Lookout was a lot easier and less time consuming than most ID theft protection services I’ve tested. All I had to do was hand over my name, address, email, and credit card information, and I was done.
My confirmation email came quickly and, after I downloaded the Lookout Android app, it automatically retrieved my confirmation code and unlocked my subscription for me. I thought it was a little weird that I was creating my password at this stage — rather than when I registered — but that’s how Lookout works.
Pro Tip: Creating strong, unique passwords isn’t tough, and you don’t need a generator. Just string together five or six random words, capitalize two of them, and add a number or symbol at the end, like this: tumbleforkLurkingHexbabies4. According to How Secure Is My Password, that password would take two hundred decillion years to hack.
Setting up the Lookout mobile app is a straightforward four-step process that starts with enabling its VPN. A VPN is your first line of defense against shadow-dwelling cybercriminals. Leaving the house without one these days is just tempting fate, so the fact that Lookout prioritizes this was a sign that I was in good hands.
Pro Tip: If you have an iPhone with iCloud+, you may already have the equivalent of a VPN. iOS 15’s latest enhanced privacy features include something called Private Relay, which encrypts and reroutes all web traffic through Apple’s own private servers.
Next, I activated Lock and Wipe, which is exactly what it says. If a thief steals my phone, I can log in to my Lookout account from my laptop and lock them out or even erase all my data before they have the chance to swipe it. Considering very few lost or stolen mobile devices are ever recovered, I was more than happy to cede this permission to Lookout.
Finally, I had to give Lookout a bunch of other permissions, mostly standard things such as camera and location access. But I had to give Lookout systems permissions too. Granting total admin control to a third-party app, even one you trust, can be a little scary, but it’s how Lookout wipes your phone (even if it’s dead and out of batteries!) in the event of theft. The feature is called Signal Flare, and how cool is that?
Did You Know? Wonder why you have to give Lookout camera permissions? So when a thief starts wiping his thumbs all over your stolen phone, Lookout can snap a picture of them and send it to you with their exact GPS coordinates.
Setting up ID Monitoring was easy, but it took a few minutes. I gave Lookout my email address, phone number, driver’s license number, and social security number. I also gave Lookout my medical ID (from my health insurance card).
The fact that Lookout was taking medical ID monitoring seriously told me they were on the ball and keeping up with the latest ID fraud “variants.” COVID scams are a $600 million industry these days. Thieves posing as insurance agents (and worse) have been robbing Americans blind. With my medical ID under lock and key, I could at least make it much tougher for them to get away with it.
Finally, I filed my bank accounts and credit cards with Lookout, and that was basically it. My mobile phone was impregnable. In theory. Now I had to test it in the field.
Pro Tip: If you ever get an email or phone call from an “IRS agent” asking for sensitive details so they can issue you a stimulus check, don’t give them anything. Instead, contact the FCC immediately. If you share your personal information with a fraudster, they’ll use it to steal your identity.
Mobile apps should be simple and seamless, especially apps that are protecting you from the FBI’s most wanted form of online fraud: identity theft. The Lookout Protection app scores a 9/10.
As you can see below, Lookout’s home screen is pared down to the basics: live threats, theft protection, and ID protection. If you’re good to go — all your apps are safe and you haven’t visited any suspicious websites lately — you’ll see a green phone.
Mine was green so I moved on to theft protection.
FYI: I tested Lookout’s app on an Android phone, but Lookout also works on iPhone. With the iOS app, you get an additional antitheft feature, Lost Message, which lets you post an SOS message on your lock screen if your phone goes missing.
I had already given Lookout location permissions, so everything was running smoothly behind the location-tracking tab. If your mobile phone ever goes MIA, you’ll need to log in to lookout.com on another device to locate it. The same goes for the Lock and Wipe and Scream features (more on those below).
A quick location check told me Lookout was working on both ends. Tracking was working on my phone and from my desktop, which is what I’d need it to do if I ever lost my phone.
Pro Tip: When Lookout’s Theft Protection is on and your device is trackable, the Theft Protection square in the bottom corner of your screen will turn from a red “off” to a green “on.” You need to enable GPS location tracking for that to happen.
That’s right, Lookout will “scream” for you if you give it permission. I was afraid it was going to be a blood-curdling shriek because of the multiple warnings Lookout gave me, but when I actually tested it, it was more like a mobile police siren.
Under the Theft Alerts tab, I made sure all the permissions I’d given Lookout during setup were toggled on. That way I’d get an alert if a thief bungled my passcode a few times, yanked out my SIM card, or managed to uninstall Lookout. Very neat. I didn’t request notifications when airplane mode was enabled or my device was shut down.
Pro Tip: Want to see what happens to a phone thief from a scammer’s-eye view? Tap “Send Yourself a Sample” on the Theft Alerts screen. Lookout will snap a picture of you with your GPS coordinates and send it to you via email!
Lookout’s security features are easy to manage. A quick apps and web scan told me my software, files, and the sites I’d visited over the past 24 hours were clean.
The last stop I needed to make was ID Protection (Breach Report in the slide-out menu). This was the reason I’d installed Lookout to begin with, so I wanted to be totally familiar with the functionality.
Did You Know? Chargeware scams, such as 2021’s $100 million GriftHorse hack, bill you for services you never signed up for. Without comprehensive malware protection, these charges could go undetected for months.
If a breach affects any of my apps, emails, or personally identifiable information, it will show up in my Breach Report. And that is exactly what happened the day I installed Lookout. Weirdly, the hack had happened on a dormant account I’d completely forgotten about — and so had my password manager apparently — which is just the kind of account thieves like. That meant Lookout was scraping deep.
Lookout’s Breach Report also monitors what it considers “services.” For me, it was subscriptions such as Netflix and Spotify, and my Google work apps (Docs, Drive, Gmail, etc.). I’m not expecting Google Docs to be hacked anytime soon, but Spotify suffered two credential-stuffing attacks in 2021, so having them on my breach report was fine by me.
FYI: Credential-stuffing happens when hackers take stolen login info and launch it at thousands of accounts in the hope of a match.
I didn’t have any actual theft to report, but this is where I’d go if I ever needed a restoration specialist. Tapping “24/7 Restoration Assistance” won’t put you in touch with an agent. Click “Contact us now” at the bottom of the screen for instant phone support.
Under the Monitoring tab, I had a view of all my active ID protections. Everything looked good and there was nothing to report. For the moment, all my records were clean, which is just how I wanted it.
Lookout’s pitch — $59.99 for a year of iron-clad mobile protection — is pretty tempting, even if you know you won’t get any credit report monitoring and you can’t use its VPN on your desktop or laptop.
After all, 2021 was not only the year when hacking and online fraud went through the roof, but also the year when two-thirds of all fraud happened on mobile phones. No doubt about it: Protecting our mobile devices is where it’s at and where it’s going.
But that doesn’t mean our credit reports should be sitting ducks or we’ll all be happy shelling out another hundred or so bucks a year for a second VPN for our stationary devices. I, for one, would have to think hard about this.
I loved Lookout’s top-notch mobile protections and intuitive app, but I’m not sure if it’s comprehensive enough to tempt me away from a Norton LifeLock bundle or an entry-level IdentityIQ plan, which includes credit monitoring, a VPN, and premium malware protections from Bitdefender for all my devices.
FYI: Does this review have you thinking about identity theft protection? We’ve only scratched the surface! Check out our 2024 ID Theft Protection Buyer’s Guide for the full story on identity theft and some of our favorite ID theft protection services.
You can install the Lookout app on up to five devices.
Yes, just go to your settings and deselect Safe Browsing.
No, Lookout doesn’t monitor any credit reports.
No, Lookout is exclusively for mobile devices.
Yes, all Lookouts plans are annual.
Sift. (2021). Q1 Trust and Safety Index: Exposing the Multi-billion Dollar Fraud Economy.
Federal Trade Commission. (2021, Feb). Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2020.
Statista. (2021). Global number of fake accounts taken action on by Facebook from 4th quarter 2017 to 3rd quarter 2021(in millions).