The MATCH List

Guide to Navigating the MATCH List

The business world is full of acronyms, so it can be hard to keep concepts straight. Two acronyms that you hopefully have not experienced firsthand are MATCH and TMF. Though the MATCH list may sound innocuous, merchants who find themselves in this category will quickly see that being MATCHed is bad for business.

Whether you recently found yourself on the MATCH list or you simply want to learn more about what these concepts could mean for your business, you have come to the right place. This guide will describe what MATCH and TMF are as well as what to do if you are on the list and how you can go about getting off the list as quickly as possible.

What is the MATCH List?

MATCH is an acronym for Member Alert to Control High Risk. The MATCH list was created to blacklist certain high risk merchants. TMF is a related acronym that stands for Terminated Merchant File, but has recently been replaced by MATCH.

The MATCH list functions as a database that compiles information about businesses and business owners whose accounts have been terminated for a variety of reasons. MasterCard created the MATCH list and assumes responsibility for managing it, though other credit card networks such as Visa can access the list when they are screening applicants.

If a merchant – whether listed as a business or an individual – is put on the MATCH list, it becomes nearly impossible for that merchant to find an acquiring bank who will accept them as a client. Acquiring banks are able to make enquiries as to why applicants have been placed on the MATCH list, though most banks are reluctant to accept high-risk applicants regardless of the reason why the applicant was MATCHed. This means that merchants are often unable to open new merchant accounts for the duration of their time on the MATCH list.

Pitfalls of the MATCH List

Although the MATCH list is useful for acquiring banks who are screening applicants, the list is not without its issues. The primary pitfall of the MATCH list is that MasterCard does not verify information that is reported in the MATCH list. Other acquiring banks are able to update the database with information about merchant accounts, and this information is not vetted by any other authority.

For this reason, it is possible that information about certain merchants can be wrongfully reported. This is why it is crucial for merchants to understand the reasons for being added to the MATCH list and to dispute their listing if they think that their information has been inaccurately reported.

Why Merchants Are MATCHed

There are a number of reasons why merchants can be added to the MATCH list. A few reasons why merchants can be MATCHed include:

  • The merchant files for bankruptcy and is unable to discharge financial obligations.
  • The merchant is convicted of criminal fraudulent activity.
  • The merchant either knowingly or unknowingly facilitated the unauthorised use or disclosure of customers’ account information.
  • The merchant participated in money laundering or dishonest representation of transactions.

However, the primary reason for merchants to be added to the MATCH list is because of excessive chargeback levels. Each network defines “excessive” differently, using the chargeback ratio to determine thresholds and breaches.

The most common types of chargebacks occur as a result of fraud, either resulting from identity theft or friendly fraud. Chargebacks can also be filed to combat merchant fraud, although fraud on the part of the merchant is also a valid reason to be added to the MATCH list.

Life after the MATCH List

The good news is that the MATCH list is not permanent and that you can dispute your status on the list. The bad news is that it can take five years to be removed from the list. Upon discovering that you and/or your company are on the MATCH list, you should immediately take these steps to remove yourself from the list.

  1. Assemble financial statements and documents that may be relevant to your case.
  2. Arm yourself with patience before calling the bank.
  3. Call the institution that added you to the list. More often than not, your most recent acquiring bank was responsible for adding you to the MATCH list.
  4. It can take a while for you to be transferred to the correct department and find the right contact. Once you have the right contact, ask for an explanation and reason code for why you are on the list. Depending on the reason code that the bank has on file, the representative may be able to offer next steps to take to get off the list.
  5. If you feel that you are unjustly on the MATCH list, initiate a dispute with the bank that added you to the list. If there is a valid reason for you to be on the list, follow the steps recommended by your previous acquiring bank.

Some reasons for being added to the MATCH list are easier to resolve than others. While excessive chargebacks can be corrected with time and by rectifying all chargebacks that are currently on file, being convicted of fraudulent activity means that it is nearly impossible to get off the MATCH list.

Fortunately, there are some banks who will still accept merchants who are on the MATCH list. Banks will take the reason for being on the MATCH list into account, so depending on your situation it may be possible to open a new merchant account while on the MATCH list.

How to Stay Off the MATCH List

When it comes to the MATCH list, prevention is definitely better than correction. Because excessive chargebacks are the primary reason for merchants to be MATCHed, considering ways to reduce the number of chargebacks is an excellent strategy for reducing risk. Taking steps such as notifying customers before charging them for recurring payments or vigilantly watching for suspicious activity can help prevent card-not-present chargebacks.

If your business is in danger of being added to the MATCH list, contact us today. We’ll help you implement an aggressive chargeback prevention strategy to quickly reduce your chargeback ratio.