A Vacaville, California man won the lottery.
He was ecstatic- until he realized his roommate stole his lottery ticket and tried to claim his prize.
What happens if your winning ticket is stolen or damaged? You might not like the answer.
Keep reading to learn more about lottery ticket theft and what you can do to protect yourself from this crime.
What if My Lottery Ticket is Lost or Stolen?
If your ticket is lost or you believe it may have been stolen, you should report this to your local law enforcement agency. The lottery is not responsible for tickets that have been lost or stolen. If someone steals your ticket and claims your prize, you will likely be out of luck.
This is because most states’ laws prevent them from paying a prize more than once. If you find yourself in this situation, your only recourse is to hire an attorney and pursue the person who stole your ticket in a civil court case.
If you get lucky and the evidence of theft is apparent, the lottery will consider the ticket disputed. You may or may not receive your winnings. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to avoid this problem.
Signing Your Lottery Ticket
The number one thing you can do to protect yourself from lottery ticket theft is to sign the back of your ticket as soon as you purchase it.
The player is ultimately responsible for ensuring a ticket is accurate before leaving the place of purchase and for determining whether their ticket is a winner. The responsibility of redeeming your ticket rests with you as the player.
When you win a prize, the terminal should play a song and display the amount of your winnings. If you didn’t win, you will be notified of that as well. If you think your ticket is a winner and the terminal rejects it or the retailer where you bought it says you aren’t entitled to your prize, you can have your case reviewed by the state lottery where you bought your ticket.
Signing your ticket right away is the best way to prove it’s yours. You should sign your ticket with your full legal name and use an ink pen, which can’t be easily erased. Be sure not to use a signature stamp or mailing label to sign your ticket.
You must have an original signature. Sign the back of your ticket just like you would any other legal document or a check. If you mail your ticket in to claim your prize, you may need to fill out a winner claim form.
And if you purchase lottery tickets as part of a group, one person will need to be designated to sign the ticket. This person should sign their own name as well as the group’s name to protect the other members of the group against lottery ticket theft.
Lottery tickets are considered bearer instruments. This means that if there is no signature on the back of a ticket, anyone who posses the ticket can file a claim for the winnings. In many states, if there is evidence that the signature on the back of a ticket has been altered and the ticket is a winner, a security investigation will be initiated.
Did You Win a Prize?
As a lottery player, it’s your responsibility to determine whether your ticket has won a prize. There are several different ways to determine whether you have a winning ticket, and we recommend checking with multiple sources before declaring yourself a winner or loser.
Each state lottery has its own website where you can find information about winners and prizes. You can always ask a retailer to print out the winning numbers from the lottery terminal. Many retailers have self-checkers or lottery ticket scanners where you can check your tickets to see if they are winners without having to ask for help.
If you buy lottery tickets online, the barcode should be on the bottom of the ticket. Remember to sign your tickets right away, before using a lottery ticket scanner or having them validated.
Protecting Yourself from Lottery Ticket Theft
You should always check lottery tickets closely after purchasing them and before you leave the store to make sure you received what you paid for. Make sure the numbers on the tickets match the numbers you chose. Once you have your tickets in hand, it’s up to you to keep them safe.
Always store your lottery tickets in a safe, memorable place and keep them cool and dry. Never deface lottery tickets. While you can buy lottery tickets online, you should handle these tickets with additional caution.
Only buy lottery tickets from authorized retailers. If you think you’ve won the lottery, be careful who you tell.
Educating yourself about lottery ticket theft and common ticket scams is your best defense against bad actors. Lottery officials will not call you collect. Avoid solicitations from businesses guaranteeing you will win a prize.
Never join a prize pool just to play. Legitimate lotteries will always require you to buy a ticket for the chance to win. If someone offers you a set of winning numbers instead of a ticket, this is a red flag.
Know that you should never have to pay to claim your lottery prize upfront. Finally, never give out your personal financial information over the phone or the internet to anyone promising to win you a prize.
Are You Playing Smart?
Imagine winning the lottery and finding out someone else cashed in your ticket. You can avoid this nightmare by playing smarter.
We analyze lottery games across the country to help players get the best chance at winning a prize. Click here to watch our free lottery secrets video to learn more about how to increase your chances of winning and protect yourself from lottery ticket theft.