Kayla Stephens was shocked when she received a phone call from a man who said he was on his way over to their house to kill her husband, Caleb Stephens. The man making the threatening phone calls said that Caleb took out a loan in 2007 that was paid off with a fraudulent check. Kayla says that he did pay off the loan but it would not have been with a check.
Initially, this person threatened to send the police to the Stephens’ home; then the threats became increasingly more violent and frightening. According to Kayla, one of the calls Caleb received said that the man was in front of their house and was going to torture her. She then gets a frantic phone call from her sister-in-law saying that this man called her saying that Kayla and Caleb were dead and she needed go to Tyler County Hospital to pick up the children.
At this point, they are not sure if it was a debt collector or a scam artist. For debt collection purposes, those phone calls are illegal. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) helps to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors and protect consumers against those abuses. The FTC web site explains that the FDCPA mandates that debt collectors can contact you by any means to collect a debt, as long as they follow the rules and disclose that they are debt collectors. It is against the law for a debt collector to pretend to be someone else or to harass, threaten, or deceive.
The Texas Attorney General has received 100 complaints in 2015 and around 35 in 2016 regarding aggressive debt collectors. Kayleigh Lovvorn, Media Relations for the Texas Attorney General said harassment is generally prohibited by state and federal debt collection laws. If a person experiences what they believe to be illegal debt collection practices, that person should file complaints with the Texas Attorney General. Lovvorn stated that if someone has genuine concern for their safety, they should contact law enforcement.
“The Attorney General can enforce debt collection laws when such actions are in the public interest. They cannot represent individuals, but individuals can benefit from actions taken by the Attorney General,” said Lovvorn.
Kayla and Caleb Stephens hope the phone calls will stop since they have contacted police and the case is under investigation. Once the caller found out that they contacted the police, Kayla says he apologized and admitted that he might have gone too far.