WISE WORDS: The Hidden Traps You Can Fall Into After Winning The Lottery

New Jersey Powerball winner Pedro Quezada won a record $338 million. Under current laws he won't be able to keep his identity secret. Photo

When you win a substantial lottery prize, you need to keep your head down.

Security is ultra important so you don't get targeted by crooks, scam artists and begging letter writers.

In many countries you are required to give permission for releasing your private details as part of the winning contract.

But in the USA there are only 5 states which won't publish your private information: Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, and Ohio.

Everywhere else you are required to give many details to the lottery organization - including photographs with that giant check - to prove that they did indeed create a winner.

Under current law, winners identities are public information. The state Lottery Commission can publicize your names, hometowns, prize winnings and photographs.

Several winners have worn disguises, and others have used trusts and companies to shelter their identities.

But this is a difficult path to negotiate with the lottery boards, so the answer is to take steps to protect yourself after the win.

Here's 7 ideas you can use to sidestep the problem and keep your identity:

BEFORE WIN

1. Get your ticket claimed by a representative. Use a stand-in for the photo so there's less chance of you being recognized in public.

2. Negotiate terms with lottery officials. For example, if there is good reason why you don't want publicity, they may not require you to to give a news conference. But you need to have a good reason - remember it's important to them to have your name and face out there.

3. Wear a mask, cap or beard when you show up for a publicity photo. Masked winners are often seen in Europe, China and Singapore.

AFTER WIN

4. Cancel all your phone accounts immediately, including mobiles. Get new numbers, or change your phone number to an unlisted one. Remember, you can now afford to throw your new iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or Blackberry away and buy another!

5. Leave home and rent or buy a home in another city under another name. But remember media are skilled at getting information and will find you, especially if it is a large jackpot win.

6. Don't give interviews to the media. Most interviewers don't play by your rules, and will skillfully persuade you to say things that you may regret later.

7. Ignore begging letters. You don't have to open them! Have them disposed of by a commercial document destruction center.

Winning a large jackpot is a life-changing event. Don't take it lightly. Use these steps and get all the legal and financial help you can.