Merchant Accounts

How to Get Off The TMF/Match List

January 26, 2024

Getting on Mastercard’s MATCH list or the old Terminated Merchant File (TMF) causes major headaches for businesses by limiting payment processing capabilities. However, overcoming challenges is possible by understanding the landscape and taking strategic actions.

This guide shares tips on addressing a MATCH/TMF listing, some solutions, alternatives, and ways to avoid future listings.

What is the TMF/MATCH List?

The MATCH list, previously called the TMF, contains merchants deemed high-risk by Mastercard due to business activities. The list differs from high-risk business categories in the sense that the actual business gets flagged for individual activities and not due to the industry it is in. It helps processors evaluate merchants before approving them and puts them on a flag list.

Businesses typically land here for heightening risk through things like:

  • Fraud
  • Excessive chargebacks
  • Security non-compliance
  • Illegal transactions

For example, over 1% of monthly Mastercard volume in chargebacks or $5,000 can trigger listing.

Key Reason Codes

Listings get assigned a reason code indicating why accounts were terminated. Here are some common codes:

Reason CodeDescription
01Fraud - Involvement in fraudulent activity.
02Excessive Chargebacks - High number of chargebacks.
04Excessive Fraud - High levels of transactional fraud.
05Bankruptcy, Liquidation, or Insolvency - Financial instability or legal processes indicating inability to pay debts.
07Violation of Standards - Breach of card network regulations.
09Merchant Collusion - Suspected conspiracy with customers to defraud.
10Identity Theft - Use of a stolen identity.
11Data Compromise - Breach leading to exposed or stolen card data.
12Laundering - Suspicion of money laundering.
13Mastercard Specific - Violations specific to Mastercard rules.
14Other - Miscellaneous reasons not categorized above.

Impacts of Getting Listed

A major consequence is the struggle to open new merchant accounts, as financial institutions often avoid listed merchants. While some high-risk processors may assist even if you are on the list, steep reserves, reserves, limits, and strict rules often come with that.

Can You Get Off The List?

It’s challenging but possible! The mandatory period is usually five years, but exceptions exist. If inaccurately listed or issues get resolved, your business has a chance of earlier removal. But certain activities diminish those odds:

  • Fraudulent transactions
  • Transaction laundering
  • Lying to the processor about business activities
  • Illegal activities
  • High chargeback history

As a responsible business owner, ensure full compliance and transparency in financial dealings. If any of the above things were a reason you got put on the MATCH/TMF, the odds are slim; you will get taken off unless they made some error in their conclusion.

Steps After Discovering Your Listing

Confirm Listing Status

Get rejected for a new account? Ask your old processor if uncertain. Hopefully, they can give a reason code and details as to why you were added.


Understand Listing Reasons

Know your reason codes – it’s vital for addressing underlying problems.

Review Contract Terms

Check if you have any rights or options for disputes/removal per your merchant processing agreements.

Contact Your Old Processor

Discuss removal options if issues are now resolved or listing erroneous. But removal stays at their discretion.

Strategies for Potential Removal

While not guaranteed, closely collaborating with relevant institutions makes the best case.

Fix Underlying Problems

Tackle what triggered listing – enhance protections against fraud/chargebacks and ensure compliance. Show resolved risks.

Build Your Case

Gather evidence of improvements – records of better transaction habits, compliance certificates, and resolved cases of fraud/chargebacks. Demonstrate changed levels of risk.

Negotiate with Service Provider

Discuss your situation and efforts to resolve problems. Ask them to request Mastercard for removal. But success isn’t easy.


Consider Legal Assistance

If errors or removal difficulties occur, specialized legal help can be invaluable in navigating regulations and negotiations with the merchant service provider.

Can a Lawyer to Get off the MATCH/TMF list?

Dealing with a MATCH/TMF listing can be super frustrating, but getting legal help could make a big difference. Here’s the scoop on how working with a lawyer can help get this resolved:

First up, you want to find someone who really understands these lists and the rules around them. A good lawyer in this area can explain exactly why you got put on there in the first place. They know all the ins and outs of financial regulations to break down the specifics of your case and what went wrong.

Next, they can dig into the evidence to build a solid case for your side. That means gathering any documents, emails, or financial records supporting your position. A lawyer can also help organize everything properly to dispute errors or unfair calls.

If errors did happen or you feel the listing was bogus, the lawyer can go to bat for you. They can put together persuasive legal arguments, negotiate directly with your bank or card companies, and generally fight to set the record straight.

Down the road, they act as your voice in any legal action, too. If court or other legal processes arise, you’ll want them in your corner representing your business interests. No one wants extra litigation, but it sure helps to have an expert on your side if it comes to that!

Finally, after the dust settles, a lawyer can advise you on staying compliant and avoiding repeat offenses. They can review your internal processes and recommend best practices so you don’t wind up back on the list again. Following their compliance tips is smart!

For the best shot, you definitely want someone who knows financial and merchant services rules inside out. This stuff is complex, so leverage their expertise in navigating it! The right legal guidance can save you tons of headaches throughout the process.

Alternatives While Listed

While being listed causes obstacles, the right approach allows businesses to carry on.

Adapt Alternative Payment Methods

Other payment methods that don’t use credit cards, such as ACH merchant accounts and crypto-based accounts, do not apply to the TMF/MATCH list, so incorporating those may help keep your business running despite not processing credit cards.

Find Suitable Processors

Seek processors experienced with high-risk businesses and TMF-listed merchants.

Rebuilding Your Reputation After Removal

Regaining trust requires consistency:

  • Communicate openly about resolved issues
  • Implement enhanced business practices
  • Upgrade Security Measures and strengthen your data security and fraud prevention systems. 
  • Obtain Certifications and Compliance Verifications: Acquiring relevant industry certifications can also boost your credibility.
  • Develop a positive online presence.

Preventing Future Listings

Best practices around account management and operations significantly reduce risks of recurrence:

Account Management Tips

  • Maintain agreement compliance
  • Preserve transaction transparency
  • Avoid unclear billing

Monitor Transactions

  • Regularly review for anomalies
  • Mind chargeback and fraud ratios
  • Use fraud prevention tools

Train Staff on Compliance

  • Educate on PCI and other essentials
  • Help staff handle fraud appropriately
  • Foster responsibility culture

So, in summary – overcoming TMF listing challenges takes work but pays off by enabling smooth payment processing. Stay vigilant in safeguarding your business!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are MATCH and TMF the same?

Yes, MATCH replaced TMF but serves the same purpose – flagging high-risk merchants to processors.

2. Are there services assisting with removal?

Yes, specialists offer guidance around compliance, legal matters, and negotiations to aid removal.

3. Can you open a new account while listed?

It’s very difficult, as most avoid listed merchants. However, many high-risk providers may assist, often with strict terms and fees.

4. How long will you stay on the MATCH list once you get listed?

Unfortunately, the standard penalty is roughly five years. Unless you can get a removal directly from the service provider who placed you there, you may just have to apply with high-risk providers who will take TMF/MATCH merchants.

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