What is the TMF and MATCH List, and How to Get Removed From It.

Did you receive a notification that read “merchant account terminated”?  I’m going to guess if you are reading this it is due to the fact that you have actually just became aware that you’ve been assigned to the Terminated Merchant File (TMF) or Member Alert To Control High-Risk (MATCH) list. You are probably also clambering to investigate what this “list” really is. You want to know just how to get your business off of it. Am I close?

Well you’re not the only person that’s been caught by surprise. The reality is that a lot of businesses don’t know until they send an application for a new merchant account. When they are declined the merchant services provider then discloses the reason to you.

I really hope that in your case I’m catching you prior to you being placed on the list and before you have had your merchant account terminated. If I am not I’ll do my finest to help you out anyway. As you may have already observed that this notorious “blacklist” goes by a pair names. The Terminated Merchant File (TMF) and MATCH (Member Alert to Control High-Risk). Up until now the TMF was the default term used by the industry.  More recently it has been replaced by “MATCH. They both result in the very same thing.

What is MATCH?

MATCH is a system produced as well as handled by MasterCard. It is essentially a database that houses details regarding businesses. It also will list the owner and all associates. These are merchants whose payment processing benefits have actually been terminated. I will describe the reasons which I’ll talk to you about later on. It is used by obtaining financial institutions (aka sponsor banks and merchant service processors) to evaluate prospective candidates.

MATCH is used to verify if you have had a merchant account terminated in the past. Acquiring banks also have the capability to include or remove you to or from the MATCH data source. In short, MATCH resembles a “blacklist” that financial institutions can use to cross-check you and board you as a new merchant. That way, they won’t obtain or get stuck with bad actors.

The biggest disadvantage to the MATCH system that you will see is that MasterCard does not validate or validate the preciseness of the info reported to the MATCH data source by the obtaining processor. Per this caution in section 11.1 of MasterCard’s Protection Rules and Procedures.

MasterCard does not validate the request for confirmation, Either for the basis for or precision of any type of details that is reported  MATCH. It is possible that your information has actually been wrongfully reported or inaccurately reported. It is likewise feasible that facts and situations triggering a MATCH record might go through analysis and dispute. As you can see that provides the acquirer full discernment in deciding whom to include in the listing. It’s a system with no checks and also balances which can be dangerous.

What Occurs When You are MATCH ‘d?

When you are placed on the MATCH list. Your business name, name of principal and any partners and associates that you have are all recorded on file and basically Blacklisted. MATCH also records your EIN, Website, and physical address. Once you on the MATCH list it is very challenging for you to get approved for a  Merchant Account by any merchant provider.

Because credit card processing is a business with a high risk of loss to the banks MATCH is used by the banks to see if the risk of boarding a you as new merchant is less than a bank’s risk tolerance. If a bank finds that you are on the MATCH file they can contact the previous bank who placed you there and ask why your account was shut down. With that information they can decide to either accept or reject you.

Why Do Merchants Get MATCH’d?

The reasons for you can vary. High chargebacks,  are the one that I see the most. But I have also seen fraudulent activity and even money laundering. These are an example several examples for you and are all things that will get you on the list. Below is a list of all 14 codes directly from the MasterCard website for your research.

14 codes used by TMF and MATCH

Code Description Used by TMF and MATCH

01 Account Data Compromise.
The Merchant unknowingly or unintentionally facilitated by any means the unauthorized disclosure or use of account information.

02 Common Point of Purchase (CPP).
The Merchant knowingly caused or facilitated by any means the unauthorized disclosure or use of account information.

03 Laundering.
The Merchant was engaged in laundering activity. Laundering means that a Merchant presented to its Acquirer.Transaction records that were not valid Transactions. Sales of goods or services between that Merchant and a bonafide Cardholder.

04 Excessive Chargebacks.

With respect to a Merchant reported by a MasterCard Acquirer. The Merchant’s chargebacks in any single month exceeded 1% of its MasterCard sales. Transactions in that month and those chargebacks totaled USD 5,000 or more. With respect to a merchant reported by an American Express acquirer. (ICA numbers 102 through 125) the merchant exceeded the chargeback thresholds of American Express. As determined by American Express.

05 Excessive Fraud.
The Merchant effected fraudulent Transactions. Any type (counterfeit or otherwise) meeting or exceeding the following minimum reporting Standard. The Merchant’s fraud-to-sales dollar volume ratio was 8% or greater in a calendar month. The Merchant effected 10 or more fraudulent Transactions. Totaling USD 5,000 or more in that calendar month.

06 Intentionally Deleted.

07 Fraud Conviction
There was a criminal fraud conviction of a principal owner or partner of the Merchant.

08 Mastercard Questionable Merchant Audit Program. The Merchant was determined to be a Questionable Merchant as per the criteria set forth in the Mastercard Questionable Merchant Audit Program.

09 Bankruptcy/Liquidation/Insolvency.
The Merchant was unable or is likely to become unable to discharge its financial obligations.

10 Violation of Standards.
With respect to a Merchant reported by a MasterCard Acquirer. The Merchant was in violation of one or more Standards that describe procedures to be employed by the Merchant. In transactions in which Cards are used. Including  by way of example and not limitation. The Standards for honoring all Cards. Displaying the Marks. Charges to Cardholders. Minimum/maximum Transaction amount restrictions and prohibited. Transactions. Set forth in Chapter 5. The MasterCard Rules manual. With respect to a merchant reported by an American Express. Acquirer (ICA numbers 102 through 125). The merchant was in violation of one or more American Express bylaws rules operating regulations and policies. That set forth procedures to be employed by the merchant in transactions in which American Express cards are used.

11 Merchant Collusion.
The Merchant participated in fraudulent collusive activity.

12 PCI Data Security Standard Noncompliance.
The Merchant failed to comply with Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard requirements.

13 Illegal Transactions.
The Merchant was engaged in illegal Transactions.

14 Identity Theft. The Acquirer has determined that the identity of the listed Merchant or its principal owner(s) was unlawfully assumed for the purpose of unlawfully entering into a Merchant Agreement.

For how long Are You On the List?
According to this MasterCard you’ll stay in the system for 5-years.

How Do You Get Off the TMF and MATCH List?

You’ve ended up terminated and on the list. So now what? The only way for you to get off MATCH is through the bank that put you there. So when you are made aware of it the first step is to contact your previous provider. There is no doubt that you will be given the run a round. You will be put on many phone transfers until you get to the right person. You may get forwarded to the processing bank themselves.

If you are fortunate enough to get connected to the right person you can then find out the reason code for why you are on the file. You can then and ask what you need to do to get off. Depending on the reason for you being terminated getting reinstated can be simple or impossible. It is virtually impossible for you to get reinstated due to  fraudulent or illegal activity.

Commonly a termination is a result of high chargebacks. You can fix CB’s with time. Banks will wait till all of your chargebacks have been corrected prior to considering to reinstatement you. If you believe you were unfairly terminated you must work with the bank that added you to get your business name removed or the details changed.

After your investigation if the acquirer believes that you were listed in error they must request that it is corrected. If you’ve exhausted all the calls and spoken to all of representatives available the last form of action is to hire a lawyer and try to arbitrate. I recommend this only as a last resort for you. I have been in this business for a long time and I have never seen a lawyer that has successfully get a business removed. That has just been my experience that I wanted to share with you.

Can You Still Get Approved for a Merchant Account?

There is a very short list of payment processors that may be willing to work with you and your situation. There are payment alternatives for you based on your business model. You can start by contacting us at Fintechmerchantaccounts.com to learn more and discuss your options or call us at 617-918-7235. We have approved many merchants accounts that have been on the MATCH and TMF list. I am usually called after someone has their merchant account terminated from a traditional payment processor. I look forward to speak with you.

TMF and MATCH List Removal Video


I have included some helpful links for you and further reading related to What is the TMF and MATCH List and How to Get Removed From It. And what to do if you have received “merchant account terminated” notification.

High Risk Merchant Accounts and Payment Gateways

How To Check MATCH List

Merchant Accounts for TMF and MATCH List

MATCH List and TMF Removal

Credit Card Processing and The MATCH List

How To Find Out If You Are On The TMF Or MATCH List