A reader called us to say she had received a notice in the mail from Stoner & Towne Financial Search Co. It said she might be a member of the Liddle family for whom money is being held for refund in an out-of-state treasury. It could be a tax refund, insurance benefits, forgotten bank accounts or stock dividends.

All she had to do is call a 900 number at the cost of $5.98.She wondered what we thought of this.

We called the 900 number and got a recording. It said someone with your exact same last name had money belonging to them turned into the California treasurer. The treasurer is trying to find the person to whom that money belongs, said the recording.

The recording said to write the California Treasurer for more information. It then gave an address.

We called California's unclaimed property division and were told that people inquiring about unclaimed property may call 1-916-323-2827.

The unclaimed property division has an on-line computer. Office workers will check the files to see if the state of California is holding property that belongs to the caller. The caller must give his name and address. There is no charge other than the cost of the phone call.

As far as the service Stoner & Towne offers, "This company gives information we already provide," says the assistant chief of the unclaimed property division of the California controller's office.