TMF Merchant Account

When a merchant’s account is placed on TMF or also commonly referred to as the MATCH list), the effects on business can be devastating. 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, the list is a way for the card providers and issuing banks to do a background check on a merchant’s processing in the past — which prevents merchants that were previously flagged for risky or sometimes illegal activities from 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 TMF merchants get placed on the list because of inaccurate information or an error; not due to any wrongdoing with their merchant account. Also, a merchant is often 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 placing a merchant on the list are excessive chargebacks and fraud. Unfortunately, this means that even merchants that run an honest business can still have their accounts 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.

Get Help with Your TMF Merchant Account

Performance Card Service is a TMF merchant account provider adept at match list credit card processing solutions. We understand the difficulty in trying to obtain a high risk, match list merchant account. We partner 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 continues to accept payments during this troublesome time.


What is the TMF list or MATCH file?

TMF stands for Terminated Merchant File. MATCH stands for Merchant Alert To Control High Risk. These terms actually refer to the same thing, a Mastercard-maintained database of merchants that have lost their credit card processing privileges. MATCH list is the accurate name; the TMF was the old database and was not as detailed.

When underwriting a merchant account application, a bank’s underwriters review the MATCH list. If you’re on the list, getting approved for a merchant account is much more challenging. Normally the bank issuing the merchant account has put the merchant on MATCH based on these 14 “Reason Codes.” A bank must use at least one of these to add a merchant to the list.

  1. Account Data Compromise
  2. Common Point of Purchase
  3. Laundering
  4. Excessive Chargebacks
  5. Excessive Fraud
  6. Currently Unused
  7. Fraud Conviction
  8. Mastercard Questionable Merchant Audit Program
  9. Bankruptcy, Liquidation, Insolvency
  10. Violation of Standards
  11. Merchant Collusion
  12. PCI-DSS Noncompliance
  13. Illegal Transactions
  14. Identity Theft

Obviously, a quick scan of this list reveals that the violations that lead to being placed on the MATCH list are quite serious and, in many cases, criminal. In some cases, however, merchants have been placed on the list unfairly, a situation that unfortunately can be very difficult to resolve. Over the years, Mastercard has tightened up the rules for adding merchants to the list, making unreasonable additions to the list less frequent. On the other hand, if a bank finds that a merchant has been terminated for one of the Reason Codes, the bank is obligated to add that merchant to the list.

Getting off the MATCH list is possible.

  1. After 5 years, the incident that triggered your addition to the list ages off. This sounds reasonable enough, but in reality a business may be hard-pressed to stay in business without the ability to process credit card transactions for such a long period of time.
  2. If you were added to the list in error, the decision can be reversed. You will need to work with the bank that put you on the list and present your case. As specialists in high risk payment processing, we frequently help our clients communicate with the acquiring bank and former processor to get this kind of problem resolved as quickly as possible.
  3. If you were added to the list because of PCI-DSS noncompliance and are now compliant, you can be removed from the list. This is another area where we will assist you, helping to present your case to the acquiring bank, processor and Mastercard directly.

If you are on the MATCH list and unable to get off for one of these three reasons, you still may have a chance to get a merchant account for credit card processing. We have longstanding relationships with the industry’s leading high risk payment processors, and some of them, given the right circumstances, are willing to work with MATCH list merchants. Even so, the fees will be quite high and the account terms and conditions will be very tight. Nevertheless, for some merchants, having the ability to accept credit cards is worth the cost.

We have found that MATCH list merchants can maintain or even increase sales by setting up a merchant account for ACH and eCheck payments. While perhaps not having the universal appeal of credit cards, ACH and eCheck are very secure forms of payment, familiar to most U.S. consumers, relatively easy to set up, and settle quickly. For some types of transactions, including subscriptions and high-dollar purchases, the case can be made that ACH and eCheck are preferable to credit card, for both the customer and also the merchant. Detailed information about ACH and eCheck can be found elsewhere in the FAQ section and also on the Services section of our website.

Contact us now to get started on a payment processing solution that fits your MATCH list status and keeps your company moving forward.

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