It is the age of phishing, and you treat requests for personal information very cautiously, even when the request comes from a known entity. Receiving a collection call is no different. You do not know the caller, so why should you discuss your personal finances with them?
A No-Win Situation
There are many potential pitfalls to engaging with a collector on the phone. Collectors are trained to be psychologically aggressive; they will do whatever it takes to keep you on the line until you make a commitment to pay, either in full, or in settlement, or via a new payment arrangement; and all options are likely to result in a poor outcome.
The Risks of Talking
Thousands of people every week make arrangements with collectors to repay debts that are beyond the statute of limitation and past the reporting period limit for the credit bureaus. In many instances deals are made with collectors who do not even own the debt. In some cases this means a total loss, in some cases it means payment in excess of an appropriate settlement amount, and in the case of a new payment arrangement it means a brand new debt has been created with a new statute of limitation and reporting period.
Prior to considering payment to a collector it is essential to confirm the validity of the debt, their ownership and right to collect, and the age of the debt. There is no way to do this on the phone.
Take Informed Action
Simply ask the collector to send you something in writing. Other than that you should not speak with them at all. Treat the call as if it were a phishing expedition; do not even confirm your name or your address. Simply tell them you do not discuss your personal finances on the phone. If the call is legitimate, you should receive a proper collection letter which will include all the information you need to assess the right approach to the debt.