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Should I share my personal information, including birth date and Social Security number, with a debt collector?

You are not required to give out your personal information to anyone. You will always want to take steps to make sure you are not giving out your personal information to debt collection or identity theft scammers. Generally, legitimate debt collectors will ask questions to verify your identity.

The CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule clarifying certain provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) became effective on November 30, 2021.

When contacted by a debt collector, they’ll usually ask for personal information to ensure that they’re talking with the right person before they can start asking about the debt. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) generally limits who debt collectors can speak to about your debt, so they may want to ask you questions to make sure they are talking to the right person. 

It is always your choice whether to provide any information to a debt collector, even a legitimate one, including whether to verify your identity. There is information you can request to help you confirm that they are a legitimate debt collector and protect yourself from a debt collection or identity theft scam:

  • Their name
  • Company name
  • Address
  • Call-back phone number
  • Website URL
  • State license number, if available as not all states license collectors

Once you have confirmed that the debt collector is legitimate, they may ask you for personal information to verify your identity. This personal information may include:

  • Your full name
  • Date of birth
  • Last four digits of your Social Security number

If you choose not to verify your identity by providing the requested information, for example, your Social Security number, the debt collector generally will ask you for another form of identification. That could be an account number for the debt in question (if you know it), other contact information, such as your current or previous address, your phone number, or one or more of your most recent transactions with amounts and dates. Again, it is your choice whether to provide the information requested.

How to Respond to a Debt Collector

For additional resources on responding to a debt collector, we have prepared sample letters. These letters include tips on how to use them, and they can help you set limits on communication, or stop any further communication, and exercise some of your rights.