By Lynne Adkins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Have you been told the president wants to help pay some of your bills? Don’t believe it, warn consumer experts.

The suddenly popular scam tries to hook victims by indicating that a new federal government program will pay some or all of your electric or gas bill.

“The scam, which has reportedly been taking place through social media, text messaging, telephone, and US Mail, claims that President Barack Obama is providing funding to help customers pay their utility bills,” notes Peco spokesman Ben Armstrong.

To “qualify,” all you have to do is provide personal information including your Social Security number, credit card number, and/or bank account number. Thousands of people have reportedly been victimized in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and across the United States.

Armstrong urges people never to give out personal information unless it’s part of a phone call or e-mail you have initiated. That will help protect you and your identity, he advises.

Read the KYW Regional Affairs Council series, “Senior Scams”