Here's the one essential question you should always ask your lottery store after playing


 I keep my collection of winning tickets stuffed into a simple envelope. Read here why I retain them.

The first time was the most awkward. I had asked the lotto store clerk a question that caused him to look at me in surprise.

But my simple question could also be a lifesaver to lottery winners, and why you should also ask the same question to your store.

Imagine presenting your tickets to the local lottery store, then having a major prize stolen from under your nose.

This happened in Britain several years ago when the shopkeeper kept a winning £80,000 (US$120,000) ticket. He claimed the amount was just £10 and gave that sum to the winner.

The winning ticket was eventually found after an extensive search of the shop by the winner, screwed up in a ball under the counter. The shop owner was prosecuted.

You should always be vigilant when it comes to other people handling your money. There's no harm in making sure you get what you deserve.

To do that, the question I ask each time - and never stop asking even after years of collecting prizes is this:

"Can I have my tickets back please?"

I'm talking about the winning coupons the store's machine prints out, not your own prefilled Silver Lotto System tickets.

In my country the machine prints the words "Winning Ticket" across the bottom of the ticket.

Many stores throw them in the trash. But when I ask for them, often the store will say they can't give them back, citing the lottery organization requires them to throw them away.

But I insist, and most stores will do that. The stores that don't comply, I won't return to.

Here's why you should ask this question each time:

- As the number of winning tickets grow, you'll get a feeling of successful play. This will help you remember the prizes you won when you look over the tickets .

- It acts as a deterrent against theft or misuse from the lottery store when you have the tickets.

- Having your own tickets is the best form of insurance for confirming a win. And of course you should always write your name on the back of any winning ticket immediately so no-one else can claim it.

So it's important to:

  • Make sure the lottery terminal has payout numbers facing you so you can check the amounts as your tickets are being put through.

  • Get your winning tickets back.

  • Get the receipt ticket (photo above) for each prize as well. This has the prize amount you received printed on it, along with the date and store identity.