When a merchant’s account is placed on TMF (or also commonly referred to as the MATCH list), it can have devasting results to its business. Once a merchant is listed on TMF, its account is considered high-risk; even if the business/product type was never classified as high-risk in the past. While the merchant remains on the TMF/MATCH list, which usually lasts for 5-7 years, opening any new merchant accounts will likely be a challenge. If the merchant finds a bank or processor that is willing to approve its high-risk merchant account during this time, the bank will likely charge the merchant steep rates and, in most cases, issue a reserve.
You may be wondering, “What is the TMF/MATCH list?” and “How do merchants get placed on the list?” TMF is short for “Terminated Merchant File” and MATCH stands for “Member Alert to Control High-Risk.” MasterCard created and manages the list as a tool to “identify a potentially high-risk merchant before entering into a merchant agreement.” Visa and American Express also consult this list when making decisions on approving accounts. Basically, it is a way for the card providers and issuing banks to do a background check of a merchant’s processing in the past — which prevents merchants that were previously flagged for risky or sometimes illegal activities in acquiring new accounts.
One of the negative aspects of the list is found in Section 11.1 of the MATCH overview provided by MasterCard. It states:
“MasterCard does not verify, otherwise confirm, or ask for confirmation of either the basis for or accuracy of any information that is reported to or listed in MATCH. It is possible that information has been wrongfully reported or inaccurately reported. It is also possible that facts and circumstances giving rise to a MATCH report may be subject to interpretation and dispute.”
This means that some merchants get placed on the list because of inaccurate information or an error; not due to any wrongdoing with their merchant account. It is also common for a merchant to be unaware that it is on the list until it applies for a new merchant account or has its current account reviewed by the bank’s risk department.
Two of the most common reasons for a merchant to be placed on the list are for excessive chargebacks and fraud. Unfortunately, this means that even merchants that run an honest business can still have their account placed on TMF/MATCH when they become victims of fraud and/or numerous chargebacks. Some of the other reasons for being placed on the list include sales of illegal products, money laundering, theft and bankruptcy.
At Performance Card Service, we understand the difficulty in trying to obtain a high-risk TMF merchant account. We are partnered with numerous providers that will support TMF/MATCH merchants. We also offer a variety of alternative payment processing solutions to help ensure that your business can continue to accept payments during this troublesome time. Please contact us today to speak to one of our expert sales team members who will begin customizing the best processing solution for your business.