What is the Terminated Merchant File?
The Terminated Merchant File (TMF), also known as the MATCH list, is a database that contains information about businesses that have had their credit card processing services terminated by a provider. Acquiring Banks consult this list when determining whether or not to extend a merchant account to a given business, and in most cases these banks will screen out applicants who have been placed in the TMF. In this way, the TMF acts as an industry-wide blacklist, and only acquiring banks can add or remove merchants from this database. Although MasterCard established this resource, it does not investigate or attest to the accuracy of the information it receives.
Merchants can be added to the TMF for fraudulent activity, excessive chargebacks, gross breaches of contract terms, or, generally speaking, for any reason at all. Since there is no oversight preventing companies from mistakenly or unfairly adding a merchant’s business to the list, the potential for abuse is very high. In some instances, a merchant account provider’s contract terms will state plainly that early termination of the contract will result in the merchant’s placement on the TMF. This is a highly unethical practice, and these businesses should be reported to external consumer protection agencies like the FTC.
Merchants who are placed on the TMF will remain there for five years unless the bank that initially placed them there removes them from the list. Therefore, a merchant who wishes to be removed from the list should contact the provider who originally requested that the merchant be placed on the TMF and be prepared to present evidence contesting the provider’s claim.