Beijing retiree Yuan Yizhong cut up his son's seven credit cards with a pair of scissors when he discovered that the 29-year-old had racked up huge debts that he couldn't afford to repay.
Yuan then used most of his life savings to repay his son's credit card bills of 200,000 yuan ($29,283) , managing to pay off about half.
"My son will get my house after I die, but I'm afraid it might not be enough," Yuan said.
Stories like Yuan's have forced China's government and banks to scale back a credit card policy that expanded too far and too fast in a country with little history or experience with personal debt.
Credit cards gained popularity among Chinese consumers as the middle class expanded and living standards rose, and as the government tried to encourage the use of such cards to stimulate domestic consumption.
But rising debt, especially among young Chinese people, who were poor candidates for credit cards in the first place, has put a strain on some families.
The government is now tightening up the credit card industry.
"In the past two years, banks have blindly issued credit cards," said Nie Junfeng, an expert on personal debt at CITIC Bank, the country's seventh-largest lender.
"The bubble has started to form, and the risks rooted in false application information and low-income customers are beginning to emerge," Nie said.