The MATCH list is a place no business that needs merchant services wants to be. It’s a list of processing accounts that were terminated for various reasons, but primarily because the business itself is a high-risk operation. Once on this list, the business can’t get a merchant account from the providers that use the MATCH list to check new applicants. While it’s not impossible for a business to get a merchant account elsewhere, it’s best to avoid the issue altogether by seeking out a high-risk merchant account from the beginning.
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MATCH stands for Member Alert to Control High-Risk. MATCH is still commonly, but incorrectly, referred to as the TMF, or Terminated Merchant File. TMF was a file system that existed before MATCH. MATCH is compiled and maintained by MasterCard and is used by American Express and Visa. It’s a “blacklist” to prevent a business in the high-risk category from opening a merchant services account.
The biggest problem with the MATCH list is the fact that MasterCard doesn’t investigate the reason a business was put on the list. This means that a company that is low-risk can be listed without ever knowing why in the first place. Sometimes a business gets put on the list while utilizing their account, only to get blocked when switching providers.
MasterCard created the list to prevent businesses from further abusing the low-risk merchant account providers. Two reasons a company might be listed on the MATCH file are fraud and too many chargebacks. Some companies see a higher amount of chargebacks and fraud due to their nature, although the larger number may be just over 1 percent of the business’ monthly sales volume. A low-risk merchant provider who closes an account mostly punishes a business because it doesn’t want to tolerate a slight increase in chargeback activity. When a merchant service provider closes an account, it can put the business on the MATCH list without telling the business it did so.
The short answer is yes. There are two options to deal with the situation after being put on the MATCH list: wait five years for the business to fall off the list, or contact the provider who put the business there in the first place. The problem with either action is that they take time, and the business needs income to run. The inability to accept credit cards means a business has to either go through a third-party provider or shut down altogether. Neither is a truly acceptable option.
The best way around the MATCH list is not to use a low-risk merchant service provider in the first place and use a high-risk merchant account instead. If you do end up on the MATCH list, it’s harder — but not impossible — to get a merchant service account. Some high-risk merchant accounts will work with businesses on the MATCH list and get them up and running again, provided the reason for closure was a legal one.