The MATCH List (Merchant Alert to Control High-Risk) is also known as the Terminated Merchant File (TMF). MATCH is operated by MasterCard; TMF is operated by Visa.
These lists help financial institutions know if they’re about to partner with a merchant who is:
This can create a high risk of financial loss, which is best avoided.
What Are the TMF/MATCH Lists?
The TMF and MATCH lists are a safeguard for institutions bringing on new clients. These lists are owned and operated by Visa and MasterCard. They include any business owners who have had terminated accounts in the past five years.
Every processing agency must check the TMF/MATCH lists before they accept a new user as a merchant. Being on this list isn’t an automatic closed door, but it makes the process much more difficult.
Many companies flat out refuse to do business with any merchant on the list. For this reason, you must know the actions that could get you put on these lists, how to check your status, and how to get off if you’ve been put on.
Why Might A Merchant Be Added To These Lists?
Any activity that is considered risky can get an account (or merchant) added to these lists. This could include, but isn’t limited to:
Chargebacks or returned fees
The allowable chargeback amount for the MasterCard agreements is 1% of sales or $5,000. Going over this is cause for termination and/or addition to the list.
Multiple fraudulent transactions
The merchant has a conviction as the principal participant or accomplice in fraudulent behavior.
Not complying with payment card industry data security standards (PCI-DSS)
The merchant did not uphold these standards and is thus seen as risky.
Compromising account data
This occurs when unauthorized access of customer account data is leaked, either directly or indirectly.
The merchant presented invalid records for transactions. The transactions were not actually between the merchant and a confirmed cardholder.
The merchant willingly and knowingly partnered with other fraudulent participants.
Illegal activity or transactions
Also known as ‘common point of purchase.' This is when data is stolen at the merchant’s location and used for fraudulent purchases at related merchant locations.
Inability to meet financial requirements in light of bankruptcy, liquidation, or insolvency
Once the merchant’s business no longer has any assets, they cannot pay their bills.
Fraudulent account openings
Accounts were knowingly opened with incorrect information that was used to enter into a partnership.
The merchant or its owners might be using another person’s identity to unlawfully enter into a new agreement.
Violation of standards of agreement
The merchant did not uphold their end of the agreement set when the partnership began. They violated standards in the way cards were used and charged. Restrictions were not upheld.
The MasterCard Questionable Merchant Audit Program deems the merchant high risk, or questionable.
Banks must have justification to add or delete merchants’ names from the TMF/MATCH lists. The lists are managed by Visa and MasterCard overall.
However, their Security Rules and Procedures explicitly state that they don’t do the verification. So, they put out lists that might be inaccurate if the banks are adding merchants without verifying information.
There is always room for dispute and you should know how to go about clearing your name if it appears on one of these lists.
What Happens When You Are on the TMF/MATCH Lists?
The first thing you should do is to take steps to prevent these things from happening in the future. Get your business accounts in good standing and create a business financial plan for how to approach struggles that might come up.
Being on the TMF/MATCH lists can create a whole host of problems for a merchant. You can’t simply go to another lender to get a new loan, because the lists contain:
- The name of your business
- The individuals who were responsible signers
- Phone numbers
- Tax IDs (personal and company)
- Business URLs
- Account opening and termination dates
- TMF/MATCH reason codes.
This negative association can even follow a merchant into other areas of their life. The account will be flagged any time the merchant tries to apply for a new line of credit.
This isn’t always a hard pass, but it will lead to inquiries about how the termination and placement on the list came to be, which could result in rejections or conditional, restricted acceptance.
How Do I Get Removed from the TMF/MATCH Lists?
Even though mistakes on the TMF/MATCH lists are common, it can be difficult to get your name removed. Using a lawyer can expedite the process and make it go much more smoothly. Some things are harder to prove, such as disputing fraudulent charges.
One thing that needs to be done is to contact the banking institution that originally terminated your account. Since Visa and MasterCard don’t verify or confirm information, they don’t remove names. The only agency that can is the bank itself.
Your name will stay on the list for five years unless you can get the bank to cooperate with you or if you have a lawyer to help fight your case.
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