Check Lottery Tickets Yourself… Or Else!

Checking lottery tickets with woman behind the ticket counter

Here’s a timely warning. Always check winning lottery tickets yourself.

Most lottery retailers are honest decent people. And they get a real buzz when their store creates a big lottery winner.

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Check Lottery Tickets Yourself… Or Else!

244 Comments so far ↓

  • KH

    What is the security department? Is it the lottery company or do you mean the police department? By the way this ticket claim period has already ended. But I am hoping against hope.

    • LG

      The lottery company.

      Fundamentally the ticket has expired, but that’s just an arbitrary date the lottery company place on things. So no, they don’t have to pay because that’s their stated terms. Unless an investigation proves wrong-doing, in which case they may choose to pay the prize anyway. Hence your focus should be on the investigation.

  • Jo

    I am always somewhat amazed by how much money is NOT claimed every year by ticket purchasers. My mind fills in the gaps: someone passed away between buying the ticket and the draw date, people are too busy to actually check their ticket. I have a friend who says he always buys tickets then promptly loses them (not too smart ;<). Anyway, I am not one of those people and always check the online lottery page for the winning numbers before I go to claim anything, and I know exactly what my ticket is worth.

    One time a shop owner told me my ticket was not a winner and I knew it was. I saw him put it in the machine and it showed nothing on the screen (perhaps there is a way to scam lottery tix that I am unaware of?). I asked for the ticket back and went to another retailer and it was indeed paid out at that 2nd location. I don't think there was any agenda on his end, just perhaps a malfunction or user error?? But it makes sense to know what you are owed before turning tickets in.

    Where I live (CA), my experience is that most shop owners are honest, and have in fact told me when there was a mistake made during making the purchase that I was unaware of. When they forgot to give me a ticket, (on a replay for example) they have been apologetic to a fault. Usually, it was a simple mistake, but obviously they do not want to be associated with retailers who have an agenda. They are aware of the scams. Bravo.

    Thanks for sharing this informative piece

  • Grace

    Scratch off tickets in Virginia have code letters at the bottom or somewhere in between the icons, that tell you how much you won. For example, the letters: fve,ten,one,two,fty (which mean: five, ten, one, two or fifty dollars). I haven’t won much but it’s not necessary to scratch the entire ticket, just reveal the code letters.

  • John

    Thanks for the great info on checking lottery tickets – as always 🙂

  • Tonya

    I played lottery years ago and went to 7eleven on my way to work to check the ticket. The machine flashed winner winner go see cashier. I went to the cashier and it showed either $700,000 or $7,000,000. I just seen it flashing. He looked on the back of the ticket, gave me $7 and no receipt. I asked that’s it, it’s flashing like more? He just kinda shook his head yes and said that was for the overall lotto not my ticket. I was young and naive but I always felt in my heart that I won more because normally when the machine disclosed I won, it would display the amount. This time was different just read go see cashier. Plus I felt rushed as there was several people in back of me. I always tell myself I will win again because I got robbed from that one. Still upsets me to this day.

    • Gracie Shellito

      If you contact or go to your local lottery office they will be able to tell you if an amount of that much money was won at that store. Then you can sue the store owner for your money, with the lotteries help!

      • Tonya

        Hi Gracie, It has been so long ago in between 2004 and 2008, so I don’t remember the exact date. I wish I would have thought about it during that time but was too gullible to realize. Thank you for the information. I doubt if I go to that extreme. It seems like a hassle, but I think it’s worth a try.

      • Gracie Shellito

        Even still Tonya, the lottery needs to know when they have a potentially dishonest retailer. If he did cheat you there is no telling how many more he may have cheated.

    • Patricia

      Tonya, I bet he looked on the back of the ticket to see if you had signed it. Because if you had it’s more problematic for them to try to use it. I sign my tickets now as soon as I walk out the door from purchasing.

      • Tonya

        Hi Patricia, yes I’m sure he did. I walked out of that door with thoughts that I was being played. I learned to sign my tickets from then on. I was so excited to see go see the cashier because normally it gave the amount. I knew I won big, well thought until he gave me the $7 and said not. I also remember the look on his face. I can bet my life that I won far more than he claimed.

      • Gracie Shellito

        What a great idea – we should all do that.

    • Ginger

      Same thing happened to me, years ago. I knew it was a winner as soon as she scanned it because the machine made the sound but didn’t print the payout paper. She flipped it over, looked at the back, and called a second cashier over. She was all what do I do, the other girl said giver her the money. I told her I wanted my ticket back and they refused saying they had to keep it and handed me $4. My daughter said “Mom it was more than $4” I was made to feel I couldn’t do anything except take the $4 and leave. The self scanner was “not working” and I never saw how much it actually was that I had won. I still get upset when I think about it.

    • Mark

      I scanned a ticket it said see cashier. I signed the back. She checked it and said no. But before that I had her print out the winning numbers for that ticket date. It was not a winner. I do feel cheated though I did all I could, except ask for the ticket back. What’s she going to do use white out on my signature? This was years ago. And I heard of an unclaimed ticket. Odds are mine was no jackpot. It’s a bummer still. Now I check my tickets online.

  • Steven

    Why would you give a $700 winning ticket to the clerk? No store can cash in a ticket over $600 in the USA for income tax purposes. You were supposed to claim it at the Lottery headquarters. Unsigned, you just gave it away. It is a bearer instrument.

  • Bonnie Petersen

    I went into a QT gas station and tried to check my ticket myself but the machine didn’t work, so I took it to the cashier and I heard the very low sounding bugle call saying it was a winner. So the clerk looked at me and said it’s not a winner and he threw it in the trash can. I said I want to keep my ticket and he just walked away from the register, and I left crying my eyes out the entire way to work and for a very long time after. I also never saw that clerk ever again. I was devestated. How can I get help to find out how he was able to do that.

    • LG

      You didn’t say how long ago this was (other than a ‘very long time’?). But the answer is to simply contact the lottery company to register a formal complaint. If possible talk to the security department. Ideally you’d do this the same day as the longer you leave it the more you erode the ability of the lottery company to be able to do anything about it.

    • Marie L

      I don’t understand why people can’t check their own scratch-off tickets. I always do and I know right then and there whether it’s a winner or not. Geez I generally sign the back of any large amounts on the ticket. It’s just amazing that they can’t see how much they’ve won. In Michigan our scratch ticket gives the amount next to the winning symbol or number.

      • LG

        Yup. Although some scratch games are much more complex and can be trickier to figure out if you’ve won. But then if you don’t understand the game well enough to work it out, just choose a simpler ticket instead 🙂

        And yes, do sign the back – good advice Marie.

    • Sherry

      Bonnie, I hope that experience taught you that you need to be more assertive. If you said you wanted the ticket back and he just walked away, you should have said “Excuse Me… I said I need my ticket back!” Don’t just walk away and let someone take advantage of you. I certainly hope it was not actually a winner and that someone was so greedy as to cheat you out of your winnings. In any case, don’t give up, go out there and get yourself another winning ticket 🙂

      • Bonnie Petersen

        Thank you, that’s very nice of you to say that, I have learned my lesson, every ticket I buy I sign the back of it, and I make sure there are other people in the store with me when I hand my ticket to a clerk. Nothing could’ve helped me that day, that guy was not going to give me back my ticket no matter what, I get very upset every time I think about it. Thank you, you’re very nice, good luck on the lottery.

  • Tamara Lesley

    Can you tell me which are the best scratch off tickets to play, as in; $1, $5, $10 or $20. Also should you play the same numbers over and over on the Auto Lotto and all the big games or should you just add or subtract two or three numbers from them and try to play them? I have always hesitated to play the scratch off tickets because I have only won $20 in about thirty years which seems absurd. Can you give me any advice. Thank you. Sincerely, Tamara Lesley

  • Renee

    Quick question… I tried cashing in my winning scratch off and the machine said, “Ticket not assigned to this retailer.” I’m in Arkansas and I’ve never had this happen. I called the store where I purchased the ticket and they don’t know why it’s saying this either. Why would it say this? I know if the toll of tickets hasn’t been activated it says “Ticket not activated”. Any ideas??

  • Ph

    I have a scratcher that says I won $40 dollars. I went to several stores and it says file a claim. I work by a Ca lottery building so I decided to go there to see how much I actually won and still no luck. Is there any possible way to find out how much I actually won before sending it in?

    • LG

      That should only happen for a prize over $600. So it either means you have won more than you think (which would be nice), or that there is just a problem scanning the card. I have however seen both things happen, so don’t be too disappointed to find out it really is only $40 :-). I’m surprised the lottery office weren’t more helpful though – that is disappointing.

      All you can do is make sure the barcode is really cleanly scratched so it’s definitely being read correctly (scan it again if it wasn’t). Try again on a different day just in case the lottery folks have a temporary problem. If it still comes up as ‘file a claim’, then you will have to send it in to get paid – even if it turns out to only be $40.

      If you like you can send me a photo of the scratcher and I’ll be happy to double check it for you (contact me here first though).

    • Jeanette

      Hi. Did you ever find out how much you won? I have the same thing.

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