By Kurtis Ming

After a long day of work, Felicia Williams found herself forced to drive home without car insurance.

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“I’m a really calm person normally but I was upset,” she said.

A few days earlier, Williams had reloaded her pre-paid Walmart debit card with $300 in cash, and she had the receipt to prove it.

But the money was missing.

She first discovered it when she went online to pay her car insurance over the weekend, but her payment was declined.

“It’s frustrating, it’s very frustrating,” she said, “and then I got a notice of cancelation from my insurance company.”

So Williams started calling Walmart, then went back to the store to speak with the clerk she bought it from, then made even more calls. But no matter what she tried, she couldn’t get her money back. That’s when she called Kurtis Ming for help finding her money.

It’s a common question — how can you know a pre-paid debit or gift card actually works, and how can you ensure that money doesn’t go missing?

“Nobody wants to fight for their money, it’s hard enough to earn it,” said Gary Almond, President of the Better Business Bureau-Sacramento.

He said it’s important to verify that your card has the funds on it before you even leave the store. Otherwise you may end up spending hours on the phone sorting things out, just like Williams.

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“There’s a lot of fraud in these kinds of transactions,” Almond said. “The business is always going to be kind of skeptical.”

When Williams told Walmart CBS 13 was investigating, the company credited back her money — all while she was on the phone.

She said they told her it was a system error, but they told CBS 13 they still weren’t sure what caused the problem.

“We sincerely apologize for any issues this may have caused, and we are glad it has been resolved,” the company said in a statement. “Once we learned about this situation, we began looking into it to determine what happened. That process is ongoing.”

The day after we got involved, Williams said the company offered her a personal apology, a $25 gift certificate and even offered to call her car insurance company to help smooth things over.

“[He] was understanding and wished me the best outcome,” she said.

But she said she knows it could have been a lot worse.

“I didn’t put all of my money on it, but I would have really been upset if I had put all of my cash on this Walmart card,” she said. “What if it was my last dime?”

So what can you do to keep your money safe?

First off, don’t use a debit card. They’re easy prey for thieves and can often be a headache if things go wrong. Instead pay with cash.

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If you must use a card, skip the debit and go with a credit card. That way your card provider will back you up if anything goes missing.