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Chances are, you’re reading this article because you’ve just found out that you’ve been added to the Terminated Merchant File (TMF) or MATCH list. And now you’re scrambling to figure out what this “list” or “file” actually is, and how you can get yourself off of it. Am I right?
Well, don’t feel too bad, because you’re not the only merchant who’s been caught off guard. The truth is that most merchants don’t know that they are TMF’d or MATCH’d until they submit an application for a new account elsewhere and find that they are declined. At which point, the reason for the decline is revealed to them.
MATCH is a system created and managed by MasterCard. It is essentially a database that houses information about businesses (and their owners) whose credit card processing privileges have been terminated for reasons which I’ll discuss later.
It is used by acquiring banks (aka merchant processing banks) to screen potential applicants to see if that applicant has been terminated in the past. Acquiring banks also have the ability to add or remove merchants to or from the MATCH database, given they have justification.
In a nutshell, the MATCH file is like a “blacklist” that banks can cross-check when they take on new business. That way, they won’t get stuck with any bad apples.
When a merchant is placed on the MATCH list, the business name, principal, and any business partners are all recorded on file and basically blackballed (for the most part) from opening any new merchant accounts elsewhere. Once on the MATCH, it is extremely difficult to obtain a new merchant account by any other bank.
The reasons for being added to the MATCH database can vary. Having too many chargebacks, participating in fraudulent activity, or money laundering are all activities that can get you listed.
In the past, MasterCard made it really easy for acquiring banks to add merchant’s to the list, but in recent years, they’ve become more strict with their guidelines.
Here’s a quick table I pulled from the MasterCard website (see table 11.3). The numbers before each category are “reason codes,” so if somehow you only have a reason code, you can look for it in the table to find out what it means.
|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.
The Merchant was engaged in laundering activity. Laundering means that a Merchant presented to its Acquirer Transaction records that were not valid Transactions for sales of goods or services between that Merchant and a bona fide Cardholder.
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.
The Merchant effected fraudulent Transactions of 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, and the Merchant effected 10 or more fraudulent Transactions totaling USD 5,000 or more in that calendar month.
There was a criminal fraud conviction of a principal owner or partner of the Merchant.
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 of 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.
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.
The Merchant was engaged in illegal Transactions.
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.
How Long Are You On the List?
According to this Mastercard PDF (see section 11.2.6), you’ll remain in the system for 5-years
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