What Is the MATCH List?

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If you’ve been struggling to get your business approved for merchant or payment gateway services, there’s a good chance you’ve been placed on the MATCH list. MATCH stands for “Member Alert to Control High-Risk Merchants.” The list was established by Mastercard as a means of flagging potential problem businesses, though honest and reputable businesses often get unfairly identified. If you’ve been placed on the list, you have options available.

An Overview of the MATCH List

The Mastercard MATCH list was created so that payment processors can make informed decisions regarding merchant applications. If you’re on the list and you apply for merchant services, the merchant provider may be less inclined to extend service to you.

The list is an updated version of the TMF list, also known as the Terminated Merchant File. Today, the terms “MATCH list” and “TMF list” are still used interchangeably, even though the TMF list no longer applies. The listing includes the name of your business, your website, and your physical address along with the names of all partners and associates connected to your organisation.

Why Are Businesses Placed on the MATCH List?

You may be placed on the MATCH list due to your own conduct or due to the conduct of your customers. For instance, while the majority of MATCH-listed businesses are those that have engaged in fraudulent or illegal activity, a growing number of MATCHed businesses include those that have been hacked by cyber threats or targeted by customer fraud.

You may be MATCH-listed for any of the following reasons:

  1. Your customer data has been hacked or compromised by a third party.
  2. You knowingly compromised or stole your customers’ data.
  3. Your business was involved in money laundering.
  4. Your business has a higher-than-average chargeback rate (usually about 1% in any given month)
  5. Your business is associated with an unusually high number of fraudulent transactions.
  6. You or one of your business partners was convicted of fraud.
  7. You have been deemed a questionable merchant under the terms of the Mastercard Questionable Merchant Audit Program (QMAP).
  8. There’s a high likelihood that you won’t be able to meet your financial obligations due to bankruptcy, liquidation, or insolvency.
  9. Your business has received complaints from one or more financial institutions regarding Mastercard standards violations (e.g. improper handling of credit card information or improper routing of credit card transactions).
  10. Your business took part in fraudulent collusion.
  11. Your business failed to maintain PCI DSS security standards.
  12. Your business took part in unlawful transactions, such as the sale of illegal goods.
  13. You entered into a merchant agreement using a false identity.

Placement on the MATCH list or Terminated Merchant File does not automatically disqualify you from obtaining merchant services, but it will mean that fewer merchant providers are willing to work with you.

How Do I Get Removed From the MATCH List?

In most cases, businesses are placed on the MATCH list after a complaint from their processing bank. If you believe that your business has been flagged in error, or if you’re working to resolve previous violations, the first step is to contact the processing bank and inquire about getting back in good standing.

In many cases, you won’t know why you were placed on the MATCH or TMF list in the first place. The bank can inform you of the precise reasoning and notify you of what needs to be done. If your business was flagged due to illegal or fraudulent activity, it’s unlikely that the bank will reinstate you or withdraw their complaint.

If you were MATCH-listed due to a high chargeback rate, you can gradually restore your good name by working to reduce your ratio. A chargeback occurs when a customer makes a purchase from your business and then demands a refund from the bank—they might claim that the item wasn’t received or that it was damaged. A high chargeback ratio signals to banks that you may be untrustworthy or unreliable. You can reduce your chargeback ratio by providing exemplary customer service and by working with a payment processor that offers chargeback mitigation tools.

If the processing bank determines that you were erroneously placed on the MATCH list or that you’ve satisfied the requirements for reinstatement, they will need to request a correction. Check back frequently to ensure that the correction is made. In some cases, you may need to seek legal services as a last resort.

A MATCH entry is valid for five years. So if you’re unable to get your business removed from the list, all you can do is wait. You won’t be blacklisted forever, so long as you proactively take steps to prevent the violations that got you MATCH-listed in the first place.

How Do I Keep My Business Off the MATCH List?

If you want to stay off the MATCH list, the most important thing is to operate within the confines of the law and within the requirements of your banking institution. Be sure to familiarise yourself with all of Mastercard’s rules for merchants. In addition, be diligent about keeping chargebacks to a minimum. Keep detailed records of every transaction so that you can always dispute fraudulent chargebacks as they occur.

Make sure to keep your website PCI-compliant. That means keeping your firewalls and antivirus software up to date, working with a PCI-compliant payment gateway, protecting all of your customers’ credit data, and taking other steps to safeguard your website from hackers.

Even if you do manage to avoid the dreaded MATCH list, you may have some difficulty obtaining merchant services if your business operates in a fraud-heavy industry like multi-level marketing, adult services, or technical support.

If you’ve been placed on the MATCH list and terminated by your previous payment processor or merchant services provider, you’ll need to work with a provider that specialises in MATCH businesses. But whether you decide to appeal your listing or work temporarily with a MATCH payment processor, you do have options. Being MATCH-listed does not have to sink your business.