The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) has specific guidelines that debt collectors must follow when they speak to you via telephone.

First, if a debt collector calls you, they are required to disclose that their outreach is an attempt to collect a debt and that any information supplied by the consumer will be used for that purpose.

Second, the debt collector needs to identify themselves and the company they work for.  If you ask, the debt collector should freely provide contact information, including a phone number and address for the debt collection agency.

Third, a debt collector will need to obtain information from you to make sure they’re talking to the right person. This phase in the conversation can be awkward, as it is counter-intuitive to provide information to someone who just called you. But this is a necessary step in the process to ensure your personal information is not shared with a third party.

The FDCPA provides a comprehensive listing of applicable federal laws pertaining to debt collection — Fair Debt Collection Practices Act