When a merchant account was terminated by Mastercard, the company was considered blacklisted and its name was added to a Terminated Merchant File (TMF). This was done to prevent a risky business from applying for a new account or opening an account with another major credit card company.
More recently, the TMF was replaced with the Member Alert to Control High Risk Merchants (MATCH) list. This list is a more efficient and comprehensive way to obtain and organize information on terminated accounts so acquiring banks have all the details when deciding which businesses should be able to process credit cards.
Ways a Merchant Gets on the List
There are several ways a merchant can end up on this list. Here are five of the most common reasons:
- Account data compromise: When the merchant steals account data to use with other merchants
- Laundering: When the merchant allowed transactions to process without the presence of a verified card holder
- Excessive fraud: When the threshold of fraud-to-sales dollar volume previously agreed upon in the contract is breached
- Excessive chargebacks: When the threshold of chargebacks as stated in the contract is exceeded
- Liquidation, bankruptcy or insolvency: When financial obligations are not able to be paid by the merchant
Mastercard can also choose to designate a merchant as a “Questionable Merchant” when it feels the merchant has violated its guidelines. While those responsible for placing merchants on this list must have good reason to believe there is a legitimate reason to add a merchant, additions can be subjective. There is not a checks and balances system in place, so in some cases a merchant can be added to the list unnecessarily.
Repercussions of Being Added to the List
Aside from the Mastercard account being terminated, there are other consequences of being on this list. For example, it will be extremely difficult for a listed business to open a new merchant account with any other company. Prospective payment processing companies will most likely ask the company to make some changes in its business practices and provide various forms of documentation periodically.
Payment processing companies that offer to open an account for a listed business will most likely charge higher rates, at least for a trial period, and institute lower volume caps. Lower thresholds for chargebacks and fraud have made it easier for businesses to end up on the list and be faced with all the ensuing consequences.
How to Get Removed From the List
Once on the list, the best course of action is to identify the company that put you there. Then contact the company to discover the reason why. In cases of illegal activities such as fraud or identity theft, the business and business owner will be on the list for at least five years, if not forever.
Most often, however, merchants are put on the list for something like excessive chargebacks or non-payment of a bill. In many cases, a merchant can be completely unaware it is on the list. When this occurs, the names will be removed once the bills have been paid or after other conditions set forth by the company are met.
Even if the addition of a merchant to the list is a complete accident, there will still be hoops to jump through to get the names removed. Here are some tips to follow as you attempt to get off the MATCH list.
- Be patient: Getting off the list is never a fast process
- Be honest: Answer any questions truthfully and be up front with anyone who asks about the reasons you are on the list
- Submit all requested paperwork: Even if it seems unnecessary, compliance in this area can keep the process moving forward
- Stay positive: Maintaining a respectful attitude towards everyone can help earn their favor
Because getting off this list is completely in the hands of an outside company, it is important to remember there is usually nothing you can do to speed the process up besides complying quickly with any and all demands the company makes.
How to Keep the Business Running
If a merchant account has been terminated, a new one will need to be opened to allow the business to stay open. Although being on the list can prevent a business from opening a new account with mainstream processors, there are companies that work specifically with high-risk merchants. In some cases, companies like this can get you approved for a new account even when you’ve been denied.
Opening a new account like this allows you to not only stay in business, but also to demonstrate compliance and an ability to fix the issues that got you on the list to begin with. Once companies can see you have a track record of success, it is easier to both get your name off the MATCH list and open a merchant account with a mainstream processor.