HELP! I’m On A MATCH List & Need To Process Orders
If you are on a MATCH list, you can no longer process credit cards.

HELP! I’m On A MATCH List & Need To Process Orders


Have you ever been refused a merchant account, because your business was on a MATCH list? Chances are you were recently denied a MID for this exact reason. Don’t panic, because DirectPayNet can help.

As a high-risk merchant with excessive fraud or chargebacks, at some point in your company’s lifecycle, you might be on a MATCH list. We will explain what this means and why a terminated merchant account does not guarantee being MATCH-listed. We will teach the ins and outs of what it means to be MATCH’d or TMFd and offer tips to overcome this setback.


What is a MATCH list?

Member Alert to Control High-Risk (MATCH) is a credit risk review system acquiring banks consult before considering issuing a merchant account. MATCH originated with MasterCard, but now all credit card companies are associated with this system. During the application process all merchants undergo a credit check for a merchant account by an acquiring bank. It’s a pain in the butt and mandatory.

Sometimes MATCH is also known as terminated merchant file (TMF). When MasterCard, Visa or other credit card companies add an owner, business or website to their database that applicant will be denied a new merchant account. The company is effectively blacklisted. This is not to say all merchant accounts for that business will be shut down. A merchant may have one or more existing MIDs, but any new applications will be declined. If you have an existing MID but are MATCH-listed, do everything possible to keep those accounts.

Moreover, having a terminated merchant account does not mean you are automatically added to a MATCH list or are TMF’d. Knowing this distinction is important to determine the best course of action when applying for merchant accounts.


Why were you MATCH-listed?

If you are on a MATCH list, you can no longer process credit cards. One of the frustrations with this is the inability to accept orders and not knowing the direct causes for why you were blacklisted. The reasons vary, but much like the way transactions are declined and are assigned a reason code, merchants will often be tagged this way on a MATCH list too. Here are just a few of them.

Excessive Chargebacks

This means you have surpassed the maximum number of chargebacks allowed (and it is likely not an isolated incident). The remedy is to use a multi-pronged strategy to clean up your chargebacks so you reduce your rates. Always ensure your checkout page clearly displays pricing terms. Also, show the exact nature of the product or service the customer is expecting to receive. Extend the days allowed in your refund policy and ensure you clearly explain any shipping delays. There are also a number of services on the market to help merchants control chargebacks such as fraud detection software.

Excessive Fraud

This means your dollar fraud-to-sale rates have surpassed the maximum allowed. You must reduce your fraud rates to keep your merchant account clean. Measures like fraud analytics software, double opt-in for new customers, and blocking transactions from high-fraud countries are a few solutions. These preventive measures are significant, because you may be requested to convincingly show previous processing statements for a new merchant account. If the numbers do not look good to you, they won’t look good to the acquiring bank.

Violation of Standards

You violated the card network’s regulations. Meaning, you conducted activity that goes against the policies of MasterCard and VISA. For example, you will be held responsible for lack of transparency in your order details if a customer discovers you charged them an unauthorized fee. Always be truthful about pricing and what you are selling, otherwise you could be in violation.

PCI-DSS Noncompliance

An acquiring bank has identified you as a PCI non-compliant merchant. If your site stores customers’ credit card details or has not met security standards required to sell online, beware of the repercussions. Work with a qualified PCI assessor to update your website’s security and ensure your customer’s data is secure.

We should also mention that being on a MATCH list may be unrelated to sales activity. It could be related to the director of your business. If your signatory is ever convicted of criminal fraud, this is a surefire way to get blacklisted.

An acquiring bank must be certified with MasterCard’s MATCH program to search the database for a business or specific individual on a MATCH list. In addition, providers who want access to this system, must be certified to carry out risk-based decisions about merchant applications.

The difference between MATCH-List and TMF

A provider may place your company on a MasterCard or Visa list when you are served a terminated merchant account notice. When applying for the use of a merchant account, acquiring banks refer to this list with each application. If you are on the MasterCard list you are MATCH’d. If you are on the Visa list you are TMF’d. In the US the list is called TMF/MATCH. However as previously indicated, credit card companies have association to this system, regardless of the card company type.

When you are MATCH-listed by Mastercard or labeled as a terminated merchant file (TMF) by Visa your business is blacklisted. You may struggle with getting future merchant accounts if the right steps are not taken. In some instances, both MasterCard and Visa may blacklist you for a minimum of five years. This measure significantly impacts your ability to do business.

Companies and their directors are often added to the blacklist, but many don’t know until they apply for a merchant account. They are then unlikely to be granted approval by any provider.

Next steps to take if you have been MATCH-Listed

Removal from a MATCH list can happen in two instances. The first is to become PCI-DSS compliant, which means you are no longer in violation of these standards. The second is when the acquiring bank informs MasterCard that you were added to the MATCH list in error.

Learning you were MATCH-listed or identified on a terminated merchant file (TMF) is devastating. However, it is not the end of your online business. 

Some providers will consider merchant account applications from those who remain MATCH’d, but not without a cost. Approved merchants are charged higher-than-usual fees and reserves. Be aware that your margins will decrease if you consent. Nevertheless, these providers review individual applications to establish eligibility as a credit card merchant.

Here are several tips to consider, if you want to start recovering from being MATCH’d or TMF’d:

  1. Become PCI-DSS compliant merchant as quickly as possible and stop all MID applications until then!
  2. Make the necessary adjustments to your business practices after discovering why you were MATCH-listed. Look at all of your refunds and chargebacks from a six-month period, if excessive fraud or chargebacks are your issue. Conduct an analysis of where you went wrong based on this information.
  3. MATCH can last up to five years. Clean up your business’ sales performance and reputation during that period. Hire an SEO company to remove negative media and make sure to correct the problems that got you that controversy in the first place. Reply to your customers on social media, the Better Business Bureau and other public forums.
  4. Research and find a merchant service provider specializing in high-risk merchant accounts. Not all providers are alike. They should help provide solid solutions and information about your transactions, not just get you a credit card processor.
  5. When you do start looking for another MID, provide excellent documentation for the application process. You are better off showing good processing statements that demonstrate low chargeback and fraud rates. While it’s not a guarantee, your chances of approval increase if your monthly volume is high (e.g. $100,000 or more). An acquiring bank may be risk-averse if you’re generating lower volume; typically under $10,000 per month.
  6. You will be under review for an extended period of time, should you be approved for a new merchant account. Keep your new processing clean by keeping refund rates low and practicing fraud prevention.
  7. Consider a secondary payment solutions such as ACH,. Three to six months of good ACH processing history can help obtain merchant account approval. This is because ACH is unrelated to MIDs. Therefore, credit card acquiring is not involved in this alternative payment. This is a stable solution proven to lower chargeback levels.
  8. Finally, depending on your product/business model you could use the services of a third-party payment provider. Services like PayPal, Google Pay, Stripe, Skrill and ClickBank may permit you to process payments, as long as you don’t violate their terms and conditions.


Moving Forward After a TMF or MATCH list

As you can see it’s challenging being a TMF’d or MATCH-listed merchant. You may feel defeated after receiving a terminated merchant account notice, but get help when finding a solution. Call DirectPayNet! We have industry knowledge and expertise in the implications of MATCH and TMF. Set up a call with DirectPayNet today for expert consultation and to outsource your payment processing needs.

About the author

As President of DirectPayNet, I make it my mission to help merchants find the best payment solutions for their online business, especially if they are categorized as high-risk merchants. I help setup localized payments modes and have tons of other tricks to increase sales! Prior to starting DirectPayNet, I was a Director at MANSEF Inc. (now known as MindGeek), where I led a team dedicated to managing merchant accounts for hundreds of product lines as well as customer service and secondary revenue sources. I am an avid traveler, conference speaker and love to attend any event that allows me to learn about technology. I am fascinated by anything related to digital currency especially Bitcoin and the Blockchain.