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In order to comply with data protection legislation, debt collection agencies are required to keep information secure. This includes having a process to properly verify an alleged debtor's identity before discussing an account.
An alleged debtor is not required to provide this information over the phone and if he does not want to provide it and/or deal with the debt collection agency by telephone, he can refuse and ask for any further correspondence to be in writing. A debt collection agency will soon get the message.
An alleged debtor can then assert his rights under the Data Protection Act and make a subject access request to obtain the information the debt collection agency holds in relation to the alleged debt. More information on subject access requests (and how they can be made) can be found here:
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As well as being required to have processes to secure information, organisations are entitled to request sufficient information to ascertain that a person making a subject access request is the person to whom the data relates.
In essence, having been approached by a debt collection agency, an alleged debtor can offer the required information (in order to ascertain details of the debt) but is also perfectly entitled to refuse to engage. Further, if an individual is of the view that she does not owe an alleged debt and communicates this to the debt collection agency, the view of the OFT is that ignoring and/or disregarding such representations (and continuing to make unjustified demands) can be deemed harassment. Such guidance also states that requiring an individual to supply personal information to prove they are not the debtor is an unfair practice.
The OFT guidance can be found here: http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/consultations/OFT664Rev_Debt_collection_g1.pdf
I hope that helps and please let me know if you require any more information.