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How do I hide my identity if I win the lottery in California?

Winning the lottery can be an exhilarating experience, but it also comes with risks. The sudden influx of money and publicity surrounding lottery wins can attract scammers, long-lost relatives looking for handouts, and even violent criminals targeting winners. For these reasons, many lottery winners choose to remain anonymous after their big win. However, this can be difficult to do in certain states. In California, lottery winners’ names and cities of residence are considered public record. So how can you claim your prize anonymously and avoid public attention if you win big in California? Here are some tips:

Claim the prize through a trust

The best way to keep your identity private is to set up a trust and have the trust claim the lottery prize. You remain anonymous as the beneficiary of the trust. Consult with an experienced estate planning and trust attorney to properly establish the trust before claiming your prize. The attorney can assist you in choosing trusted individuals to help manage the trust assets and distributions. This is the most bulletproof method for claiming a lottery prize anonymously in California.

Form an LLC to claim the prize

Another option is forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) to act as the lottery winner. The responsible individuals behind the LLC remain anonymous to the public. You will need to set up the LLC and transfer the winning lottery ticket to the business entity before claiming the prize. Be sure to consult with legal and tax experts when establishing the LLC to ensure full compliance with California lottery rules and tax obligations. This method can provide an extra layer of protection but may not guarantee complete anonymity.

Claim through a lawyer or representative

In California, lottery winners have the option of sending a lawyer or representative to claim the prize on their behalf. This avoids having your name and face publicized at the lottery headquarters. However, your identity will still need to be disclosed to lottery officials for tax and administrative purposes. The lottery may also request a press conference. So while this offers some privacy, lottery winners in California cannot remain entirely anonymous this way.

Wear a disguise to claim the prize

You could show up in disguise to claim the lottery prize in person, hoping to avoid being recognized. However, lottery officials require ID verification and will need your identifying details for tax reporting. The press may also request interviews and investigate your identity. A creative disguise can help you avoid initial publicity, but it is very difficult to remain anonymous for long this way.

Strategies to maintain anonymity after winning

Once you’ve claimed your lottery millions, it takes careful planning to avoid public attention:

Keep a low profile

Make reasonable lifestyle choices to avoid lavish purchases that attract attention. Move to a new home in a modest neighborhood and keep driving your old car. Avoid publicity of any kind that could reveal your identity. The longer you can prevent news stories about your win, the better.

Have advisers sign NDAs

Require non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) with any financial planners, attorneys, investment advisers and other professionals who help manage your lottery winnings. This legally requires them to keep your financial details confidential. Vet any advisers thoroughly first.

Create entity names for assets

Use nondescript LLC, trust or corporation names when purchasing major assets like property. This helps disguise any big purchases associated with your lottery win. Listing real estate, vehicles, boats, planes and other assets under business entity names provides an extra layer of protection.

Use security measures

Install a home security system, upgrade locks and add other protective measures to keep your family and assets safe. You may also want to hire security personnel for added peace of mind. Be wary of sharing your address or contact information online or with distant relatives and acquaintances.

Move to a state that allows anonymity

Relocating to a state that allows lottery winners to remain anonymous, like Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota or Ohio, can help you maintain privacy long-term. This removes your name from public record associated with the lottery prize. Consult with legal counsel first when planning a move after winning the lottery.

Avoiding scams

Unfortunately, coming into sudden money makes you vulnerable to scammers’ tricks and schemes. Here are some tips for protecting yourself:

Don’t fall for people offering expert help

Beware unsolicited calls, emails and knocks on your door from people posing as financial gurus offering to help you manage your winnings. Politely decline any offers from strangers. Vet your own advisers very carefully before hiring anyone to assist with investing or managing your prize money.

Watch out for fake prizes and lotteries

Scammers often pretend you’ve won a fake lottery or sweepstakes and ask for personal information or payment to release the non-existent prize. Any legitimate prize or lottery win will not require you to pay money upfront to receive winnings. Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Avoid giving away personal information

Never give out your Social Security Number, bank account details or other personal information in response to unsolicited requests by phone, email or mail. Identity thieves and scammers phish for confidential details they can exploit. Keep personal data very private, even from distant family and acquaintances.

Don’t extend money to strangers

Even sincere-sounding requests for loans, business investments and charitable giving from people you don’t know well should be avoided. Con artists have creative stories designed to exploit your sympathy and trust. Protect your finances by only assisting family and close friends in need.

Use extreme caution when investing

Don’t rush into any investment opportunities presented after your lottery win. Thoroughly research all offers first and consult qualified financial advisers before parting with any of your prize money. Fake investment schemes are a prime way scammers try to take advantage of lottery winners.

Avoiding harassment

The publicity surrounding large lottery wins can also attract constant requests for money from strangers, friends, charities and even relatives. Here are some strategies to help minimize harassment:

Keep phone numbers private

Don’t list your phone numbers publicly after winning the lottery. Give out numbers only to those who need them and ask people you trust not to share your contact details. The fewer people who have access to you, the better.

Politely decline requests

When contacted by people asking for money, respectfully let them know you have a policy against extending loans or gifts to people you don’t know well. You can also have your financial adviser send declination letters on your behalf.

Set firm boundaries

Be prepared to say no even to close friends and family asking for large gifts, loans or investments of your prize money. Kindly but firmly communicate your policy of maintaining good boundaries to protect relationships and finances.

Hire professionals to screen inquiries

Designate trusted legal counsel, a financial adviser, or even a public relations professional to filter and respond to monetary requests made to you. This takes the burden off your shoulders. Make sure anyone screening inquiries understands your standard protocols for declining.

Use anonymity to your advantage

The less available information there is about your lottery win and identity, the fewer incoming requests you will have to field. Being disciplined about keeping a low profile and maintaining privacy provides protection.

Avoiding threats and crimes

Unfortunately, winning the lottery can make you a target for threats, harassment, exploitation and other crimes. Here are some tips to boost safety:

Vary your routine

Don’t be predictable in your schedule and habits. Vary the times, routes and vehicles you use for regular activities. Don’t openly post details about your life and whereabouts on social media.

Enhance home security

Install video surveillance, alarms, upgraded locks and other security measures around your home. Trim shrubbery where an intruder could hide. Keep entries well-lit all night. Consider an aggressive watchdog as a deterrent.

Hire reputable security personnel

Work with knowledgeable professionals to conduct full threat assessments. You may want to retain personal bodyguards, drivers, residential security staff and cybersecurity experts to keep you and your family safe. Vet personnel thoroughly.

Maintain privacy online and in public

Never reveal personal details like your address, birthday, or information about family members publicly or online. Be cautious when out shopping or dining to avoid announcing your lottery winner status.

Use discretion when traveling

Don’t draw attention to yourself when traveling. Fly first class instead of private jet. Book low-key accommodations under an LLC name. Avoid discussing your financial status with strangers. Work with security teams to evaluate risks as needed.

Preparing financially

Coming into sudden wealth can be overwhelming. Here are tips for managing your windfall responsibly:

Pay off debts

One smart initial move is paying off any outstanding loans, credit cards or other debts you may hold. This provides a clean slate before investing or making major purchases.

Boost emergency savings

Set aside funds to cover at least 6-12 months of living expenses in a secure, liquid account for emergencies only. This protects you from having to sell assets or liquidate investments unexpectedly.

Invest conservatively

Work with qualified financial advisers to invest lottery winnings wisely. Seek moderate growth through diversified, lower-risk assets. Don’t attempt high-risk speculation or put all your money with one firm. Diversify holdings.

Make intentional splurges

Allot a reasonable portion of funds for indulgences like vacations, vehicles or charitable gifts. Set a budget and stick to it. Make financial priorities before spending freely.

Set up trusts and foundations

Protect assets by placing them into irrevocable trusts, especially to provide for heirs. You can also create a family foundation focused on causes important to you. Retain trusted professionals to manage these vehicles.

Choosing trusted advisers

It’s critical to build a team of experienced, reputable specialists to help navigate legal, financial and security aspects of claiming a big lottery prize. Here are tips for choosing wisely:

Interview multiple qualified candidates

Don’t just go with the first lawyer, financial planner or accountant you meet. Vet several through an interview process to find the best fit for your situation and personality.

Check credentials and references thoroughly

Verify licenses, education, experience and professional memberships of any adviser you consider hiring. Get and check multiple references to ensure a successful track record. Review online for any complaints.

Require background checks

Run background checks on leading candidates for your advisory team. Look for bankruptcies, criminal records, lawsuits and other red flags. Dig deep to verify qualifications and character.

Ask about protecting privacy

Discuss a prospective adviser’s protocols for guarding your privacy during the vetting process. Make sure they understand keeping your information confidential at all times is required.

Start with smaller tasks first

Before entrusting your whole lottery winning to an adviser, assign a small initial task. Seeing how they handle a limited role will reveal much about their abilities and discretion.


Winning the lottery can be a wonderful stroke of luck, but privacy and safety considerations are paramount. Remaining anonymous, discreet and cautious at all times provides the best defence against risks associated with public lottery wins. Do thorough research when selecting trustworthy advisers to assist you. With prudence and care, you can responsibly enjoy your sudden windfall and use it to greatly enhance your life. Just be sure to plan carefully and protect yourself along the way.