If you are a merchant who is processing credit cards for your business, you should be aware of a list that could possibly affect your future business decisions in a negative way. Some businesses do not even know they are on this list and only find out when they apply for a new or additional merchant account. The list in question is called the MATCH list, or previously referred to as a TMF, or the Terminated Merchant File.
What is the MATCH File?
MATCH, or Member Alert to Control High-Risk, is a service that alerts processors of businesses (and their principals) whose merchant accounts are high risk and have been terminated for cause. It is essentially a blacklist for the merchant services industry, and it’s important never to find your business or your name on the MATCH list. Once you are on this list, it is extremely difficult to remove yourself from it, and it will be very difficult to find a processor until you have been removed from the list.
The MATCH file database is maintained by MasterCard International and used by both Visa USA and American Express. Although you may find a merchant service provider that might still work with you, it will likely be with unfavorable terms, such as higher fees or holdbacks. These terms allow the processor and acquiring bank to decrease their risk in the event of future incident.
How Do Businesses Land on the MATCH File?
A business does not show up on the file easily and most likely created a high risk of loss to their acquiring bank. Usually, a company will have had plenty of chances to solve the problem before being placed on the list, so it is likely no accident if you are on the list. A few reasons that typically put a business on this list are:
- Credit Card Fraud
- Excessive Chargebacks
- Money Owed to the Processor
- Violation of the Merchant Agreement and Terms of Service
- Money Laundering
- Illegal Transactions
As you can see, it takes a lot in order to be blacklisted, but if a business is listed, it is for good reason. Again, the merchant services provider will give you plenty of opportunity to rectify the problems before being blacklisted, unless of course the business has been dealing with illegal transactions or money laundering for a long period of time.
How to Stay Off the MATCH File
You need to follow the terms of services from your processor at all times, so it is important to not only thoroughly read those terms, but you also need to understand them. If your processor sends you something regarding your account that needs your attention, you need to take care of it immediately so that they will not terminate your account.
Many businesses worry about ending up on this list if they encounter a small problem, but it truly is nothing to worry about. In fact, you can have plenty of chargebacks on your account if you do a good amount of volume. Normally, as long as you keep your chargeback rate under 2 percent, you will not have any problems. You definitely will not be terminated after one bad transaction.
How to Get Off the MATCH File
Unfortunately, there is only one way to get off of the blacklist, and it can be time-consuming and frustrating. However, if you have only committed a minor violation or no violation at all, you will be able to rectify the problem and get a new account. Below is the best recommendation to get off the MATCH file.
There is only one way to get off the MATCH file and it involves contacting the company that placed you on the list and getting them to remove you. If you committed fraud or any other illegal activity, you will never get removed and you will need to get another person to sign for a new account. However, if it is something as simple as not paying your bill, you can easily solve that and get removed quickly. Processors have put businesses on the list for as little as a few unpaid dollars, so it is important to contact the company first to see if you can solve the problem. More than likely, you can solve it and get a new payment processing account created for your business.