No one wants to be on the MATCH list. No one.
But if you find yourself on the list and don’t know why, it’s important to take action NOW so you can start processing payments. In this article, we’ll give you some tips for:
- Finding how you got on the MATCH list
- Removing your name from it
- Processing transactions after being MATCH-listed
First, what is the MATCH list?
The MATCH list (also known as the Member Alert To Control High-Risk Merchants) is a database maintained by Mastercard. There is an older version called the Terminated Merchant File (TMF). Though it was created by MasterCard, all other popular credit card networks use it, including Visa and American Express.
It lists merchants who have been flagged for fraud or other suspicious activities in their credit card processing history. Being on this list can jeopardize your ability to process payments, so it’s important to take steps to remove yourself from the list if you don’t know why you’re there.
Some of the most common reasons businesses end up on the MATCH list include:
- Excessive fraud or fraud conviction
- Excessive chargebacks
- Suspected card not present fraud
- Processing payments for high risk merchants or industries with an unsupported processor
- Poor customer service record
- Reversing and refunding a high number of transactions without good reason
- Unauthorized use of payment processing accounts or services
- Illegal transactions or illegal activity
- Providing inaccurate or incomplete information when registering with a payment processor
- Noncompliance with regulations, such as AML (Anti Money Laundering) laws
- PCI-DSS non-compliance
- Violation of standards, in reference to data security standards and consumer security rules
Finding Out How You Got on the MATCH List
Now that you know what the list is, your first essential move is to find out how you got on it so you can work to get your name removed from it. There will always be a reason code associated with your profile on the MATCH database. This is what you should find out and work to resolve.
It is not uncommon to be MATCH-listed if you’ve never operated a business or processed transactions.
1. Investigate Through Your Payment Processor
Contact your current or previous payment processors and explain your situation. After giving them some routine information like your personal name, business name, business address, and website, you can ask them to advise you on who placed you on the list.
The investigation part can be time-consuming, as not every credit card processor is responsive (like Stripe) nor are they always willing to hand over the information.
Once you discover the provider, you can contact them directly and request your name be removed.
2. Ask Your Bank
If you’re having trouble getting information from your current or former payment processor, the next best thing is to ask your bank.
Try to open a new merchant account with your bank and tell them you’re opening a business and need a business account as well as a payment processor. You could do this with any merchant account provider or financial institution that offers merchant services, but your own acquiring bank is friendlier since you already have a relationship with them.
Once they process your application, they will get a MATCH-listed merchants hit. If you’re friendly with the folks at your bank, they’ll be able to provide the information you need faster than companies like Stripe.
3. Hire a Lawyer
Lawyers can get in contact with MasterCard directly, which makes this the fastest method…but also the most expensive.
Using a lawyer to find out how you got in the MATCH system is also the fastest way to get off the MATCH list. They can usually clear your name within a few hours, depending on your situation.
If you’ve never operated a business before, then there should be no issue clearing your name.
Removing Your Name from the MATCH List
Once you’ve found out why you’re on the list in the first place and have taken steps to address the problem, it’s time to request that your name be removed from the MasterCard MATCH list.
Most payment processors will provide a form for this purpose, so it’s important to fill it out accurately and completely. Include any documentation you can find related to your case (receipts, payment histories, etc.).
For extreme cases where multiple banks have refused to open an account for you due to a MATCH hit, or if your current processor is willing to work with you but unable to help remove your name, there are specialized companies that specialize in removing names from the list.
Again, the fastest way to get your name removed is with a lawyer.
Do not rush this process. If you file any of these forms incorrectly, you’ll just extend the time it will take to get your name removed and harm your business further.
If you’ve never run a business before, how could your name be MATCH-listed?
We’ve come across this issue multiple times, and to many new business owners’ surprise, the #1 reason they are MATCH-listed is because of an affiliation with someone else who is on the list.
It only takes one connection to get your name there. When the payment processor does some due diligence and researches you, a partial hit can come up if you’re tied to someone:
- That other party could be the previous owner of your domain (maybe they were MATCH-listed and had to sell the business/domain name).
- Someone used you as a signer when they started their business, and then they got on the MATCH list
- The business name you chose was put on the MATCH list prior to you operating it
- Someone with the same name as you is on the MATCH list
There are many reasons why you might end up on the list without triggering it, yourself. The important thing now is to get your name off of it so you can run your business.
Processing Transactions After Being MATCH-Listed
The fastest way to process transactions after being MATCH-listed is to use a 3rd party processor. These are not permanent solutions, they are temporary solutions to give you the power to process card payments quickly. Services like Stripe and PayPal are easy to sign up for and get you going within one day—but they should not be your primary processor!
These payment processors do not do the due diligence required to give you a merchant account, so they don’t know how comfortable they are doing business with you until you start processing too much. Stripe and PayPal are eager to get you back on the MATCH list when they see you’re in a high-risk industry or you sell too much too fast. Once you pass their invisible sales volume threshold, you’re toast.
The best way to process transactions to avoid being on the MATCH list is with a merchant account. Specifically, a high-risk merchant account (for most online businesses).
Real merchant accounts take more time to be approved, but once it is approved you have an account and payment processor that you know will support your business. It’s the safest route forward and one that gives you plenty of negotiating power down the line.
Talk to a Payments Specialist About Getting Off the MATCH List and Opening a Merchant Account
It’s important to understand why you are on the MATCH list and take steps to address the problem. We at DirectPayNet can help. When you apply for a merchant account through us, not only do we get information about your name on the MATCH list, but we can also help you get off the list and start the merchant account application process sooner. That way, you can get back up and running faster and with a solution that will work for the lifetime of your business.
Ultimately, getting off the MATCH list is key for any business looking to make sales online so don’t delay!