Total has ramped up its forecourt security efforts to protect retailers and customers this Christmas. The move comes in response to figures from the Centre for Retail Research, which predict that thieves will steal £447 million from retailers in Britain between mid November and the end of the year.

According to the oil company, all Total petrol stations now have pin pad shields – a small plastic flap that prevents the keypad from being visible as the users enter their pin. This simple flap prevents the pin from being seen by others or being recorded by illegal cameras.

The company says the introduction of pin shields has significantly reduced fraud issues on its network. Total service stations are also handing out advice cards this Christmas and new year which remind customers to stay vigilant about the risks of fraud. The three simple messages on the cards are that customers need to guard their cards, shield their pin and be alert.

With the use of plastic on the rise, and credit and debit card spending for December expected to be in excess of £26.2 billion according to the UK Payments Association (APACS), Total says the increased use of plastic cards is bound to lead to higher risks.

Total UK marketing manager Iain Cracknell says: “By blocking the PIN from being seen, the pin shields significantly reduce the chances of fraud.

“This is especially important given the 2006 Attitudes to Card Fraud survey, which shows that one in five cardholders rarely or never shield their PIN. “Card fraud is unfortunately a real threat, especially in the lead-up to Christmas, and tackling the problem needs a multi-layered approach. Total is proactively educating our customers and providing additional protection through the card shield.”