What You Need To Know About the MATCH List

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Here at Host Merchant Services we talk with business owners on a daily basis. By keeping our finger on the pulse of small and medium-sized business we can help identify pain points that companies have in the payment processing industry. One important topic that I have seen come up more often is the existence of the MATCH file.

What is the MATCH list

MATCH (Member Alert to Control High-Risk) or also known as TMF (Terminated Merchant File) is a watch list that is maintained by MasterCard and is also accessed by Visa and American Express. The purpose behind MasterCard creating this list was to “identify a potentially high-risk merchant before entering into a merchant agreement”. The simple way of putting it is that the file is a “blacklist” of sorts that merchant processing banks use to check you and your businesses payment processing past. The downside to this process is that MasterCard does not verify the accuracy of what is being reported about you or your business. Section 11.1 MATCH Overview 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.”

In essence this means that the acquiring bank holds the power and because of a simple error or false information could have you wrongfully added to the list. In addition, most merchants do not know they are on this list until they go to switch providers and apply for a new merchant account.

What can get you on the list

The intention behind creating and maintaining this record is clearly to hold those that have had a shady past in payment processing responsible for past actions. There is a list of reasons a merchant could be added to the list in section 11.5 of the MasterCard document. They include but are not limited to:

  • Money laundering
  • Excessive chargebacks
  • Fraud
  • Illegal transactions
  • Identity theft

Pretty straight forward that if your business is engaging in risky or illegal activity and you get caught, you will have your merchant account terminated and be added to this file. Luckily for the good guys, MasterCard has beefed up the guidelines for adding someone to the file, reducing the number of errors in the system.

What being on the list means

When you or your business has been “MATCH’d”, the business, any principals or partners will have an extremely hard time opening any new merchant accounts. The new acquiring bank is allowed to contact your previous provider to find out more information to determine if they will deny your application out right or possibly approve it with certain conditions and restrictions. The idea is to prevent you from repeating what got you on the list to begin with.

How to get off the list

Similar to getting false information removed from a personal credit bureau file, removing an erroneous listing in MasterCard’s system is equally time consuming and can try the patience of most people. The first step when you become aware of a bad listing is to contact your former provider. As they are the company that reported you originally to MasterCard they will be able to tell you first-hand what prompted the listing and possibly how to remedy the situation. With some violations such as excessive chargebacks it is possible to correct past mistakes. With other violations like fraud, it is more difficult to repair your reputation.

In conclusion

The best principle to live by in the merchant services industry is to simply never be put on the MATCH list. Yet, if you do end up blacklisted by your own actions, it can mean the end of your payment processing career and the permanent damage to your reputation as well as your business’s. At Host Merchant Services we believe in transparent pricing and the best customer service.

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