Are Lottery Winners Required to Reveal Their Identities in California?
David Muñoz | January 20, 2022 | California Law
Most people believe they would enjoy winning the lottery. While lottery winners experience many privileges, there are also significant downsides.
When your identity is made public after a lottery win, you may face increased personal challenges and difficulties. In some instances, lottery winners have been the targets of theft and violence.
Lottery winners are also occasionally the victims of financial schemes and fraud. Because of this, it is understandable that lottery winners often wish to maintain their anonymity.
Can Lottery Winners Remain Anonymous in California?
Unfortunately, only certain states allow lottery winners to remain anonymous. These states are:
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
A few other states permit winners to form a trust for their winnings. They can collect their prize through this trust to keep their identity hidden.
The state of California does not permit lottery winners to hide their identities. California winners are compelled by law to reveal their names and locations.
This places them at higher risk. Many people hope to keep their win private. If you have questions regarding the role of anonymity for lottery winners in California, reach out to a skilled legal professional.
A Cautionary Tale from a Lottery Winner
Recently a New Hampshire woman won a $560 million prize through the Powerball lottery. The New Hampshire Powerball is the eighth largest lottery prize in the United States.
Because New Hampshire does not allow lottery winners to maintain their anonymity, the woman’s name and town were matters of public record. Her name was publicly available because she signed the winning lottery ticket to claim her prize.
While this information was not publicized, inquiring parties could collect her information by submitting a Right-to-Know request. This request also revealed the total amount that the woman won through the Powerball.
After her information was revealed, the winner learned that she had the option to form a private trust. By doing so, she could have prevented her identity from becoming public.
However, the fact that she signed the winning ticket made this strategy impossible. Altering the name on the $560 million ticket would nullify it, leading her to forego her winnings. Despite her personal preferences, she was unable to maintain her anonymity.
Public Accountability and Steps to Take
You may wonder why the state of California would require lottery winners to reveal their identities. This is especially strange, considering the potential hazards and risks that they might face.
However, many California public officials argue that anonymous winners would undermine the integrity of the state’s lotteries. If winners had the option to hide their identities, Powerball, Mega Millions, or SuperLotto Plus could falsely claim that there was an anonymous winner.
This would create the possibility of massive fraud. Public officials argue that forcing winners to reveal their identity ensures that every buyer’s ticket has a legitimate chance of winning.
Even though California does not permit lottery winners to remain completely anonymous, there are steps that winners can take to protect their interests.
For instance, after you learn that you have purchased a winning lottery ticket:
- Change your cell phone number and email address
- Do not answer calls or texts from unknown numbers
- Secure the services of a trustworthy financial advisor
Most people know that you should hire an attorney after a car accident. But you should also hire a qualified legal representative after a lottery win. A skilled attorney can help to ensure that your money and assets are protected. They can also help to protect your privacy.
With the help of a knowledgeable lawyer, you can make the experience of winning the lottery as pleasant and exciting as it should be.
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