Recover from the Blacklist – How to Get a TMF merchant account
Are you on the terminated merchant file (TMF) list? That doesn't phase us at eMerchantBroker. Winding up on the TMF list can feel like the end of days for your business, but we don't believe that's the end of your road.
Merchants of all sizes and types fear “The List.” That is the MATCH list, which also is referred to as a terminated merchant file (TMF). Whether it’s due to a failed business model, fraud, merchant collusion, or excessive chargebacks, ending up on the list can feel like business suicide.
Credit card companies use the MATCH list to screen potential merchants before approving them for merchant accounts. When a business is placed on the MATCH list, it not only stops a merchant from processing current credit card transactions, it prevents a company from doing any future business under any other business names. A place on this list can destroy a merchant’s ability to accept any credit card payments in the future, essentially seriously crippling any business.
So, the list is bad, but there is good news. eMerchantBroker (EMB) isn’t afraid to take a chance on a high-risk merchant. EMB is a credit card processor that believes every business deserves a second chance, event those that have ended up on the TMF list. EMB provides customized payment solutions to all types of businesses. The only condition at EMB is that merchants have taken care of all outstanding bills to their former processors.
To obtain a TMF merchant account, begin by applying using EMB’s quick and easy online application. There are no guarantees, but EMB promises an open and honest application process. Merchants can be approved in as little as 24 hours. EMB also provides secure payment gateways, chargeback mitigation programs, and other solutions.
All there is to know about MATCH
MATCH, which was created and managed by MasterCard but is used and shared by all credit card brands, is a blacklist that prevent merchants with excessive chargebacks and high-risk accounts from opening an account with another credit card processor. The list is a database of information about business, their owners, and the reasons and/or codes for why they were placed on a TMF. The database aims to prevent other processors from granting merchant accounts to businesses that are bad news. Acquiring banks have the power to add or remove businesses from the database when justified.
Despite its admirable efforts, there are no checks and balances ensuring the accuracy of the database information. MasterCard fails to verify any of the information this has been added to the list. Therefore, a merchant could have been mistakenly placed on the list and no one would be the wiser until the victim merchant attempted to get removed. The problem is that a merchant can only be removed by the acquiring bank that placed them on the list in the first place. It can become a very sticky situation that often doesn’t result in a positive outcome for merchants.
How MATCH is used
Banks use MATCH to see if it is worth the risk to open a merchant account for a business. If during underwriting an acquiring bank learns that applicant is on the list, the financial institution is permitted to contact the bank that placed the merchant there. For some merchants, they are surprised when they learn they are blacklisted. Most don’t find out until they to apply with a new credit card processor. Also, acquiring banks can ask for details as to why the merchant’s account was terminated.
Ultimately, a bank or processor can that use that information to accept the application, decline it, or provide conditional approval with restrictions, which can range from caps on processing volumes to lower rolling reserves, to prevent a similar problem happening in the future.
Reasons merchants get placed on the MATCH list
The reasons for being added to the MATCH database can range from excessive chargebacks to money laundering.
The MATCH database includes several codes with descriptions that explain the reasons a merchant can be placed on the list. They are as follows:
- (01) Account Data Compromise: Whether unknowingly or unintentionally, a merchant facilitated the unauthorized use or disclosure of account information.
- (02) Common Point of Purchase (CPP): The unauthorized disclosure or use of account information was knowingly used by the merchant.
- (03) Laundering: A merchant engaged in laundering, which means a merchant gave its acquirer purchase records that were invalid transactions for sales of products or services between the business and the person who holds the card.
- (04) Excessive Chargebacks: A merchant, who was reported by a MasterCard acquiring bank, had a chargeback ratio in one month that exceeded 1% of its MasterCard transaction and the amount was greater than $4,000. For American Express acquiring banks, a merchant exceeded the chargeback thresholds that have outline in the credit card company’s terms and conditions.
- (05) Excessive Fraud: A merchant had counterfeit or other types of fraudulent transactions that met or exceeded the minimum reporting standard, which means the business’ dollar-volume ratio was 8% greater in a single month and the merchant had 10 or more fraudulent transactions that equaled $5,000 in one given month.
- (06) Reserved for Future Use
- (07) Fraud Conviction: A merchant’s principal owner or partner was convicted of criminal fraud.
- (08) MasterCard Questionable Merchant Audit Program: A merchant matches the criteria outlined in the MasterCard Questionable Merchant Audit Program.
- (09) Bankruptcy/Liquidation/Insolvency: A business is no longer able to meet their financial obligations.
- (10) Violation of Standards: A merchant violated at least one of the standards and procedures required when a payment card is used.
- (11) Merchant Collusion: A merchant engaged in an illegal conspiracy to commit fraud.
- (12) Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard Non-Compliance: A merchant didn’t adhere to the requirements of the PCI Data Security Standard.
- (13) Illegal Transactions: A merchant participated in illegal transactions.
- (14) Identity Theft: The identity of the merchant or one of its principals was illegally assumed to enter into an unlawful merchant agreement.
To learn more about MasterCard’s rules, check out its guidelines.
How to get off the list
No doubt, getting off MATCH likely will be an uphill battle. Merchants remain in the database for five years, and the only way to be removed is to have the same bank that added the business to the database to remove it. The first step to being removed is for a merchant to contact a former provider. Expect to make many phone calls and to talk to several representatives before finding the correct person.
The reason a merchant ended up on MATCH really makes a difference in how easy or even possible a business gets removed. Banks take fraud very seriously, therefore, businesses that were blacklisted due to fraud will have the hardest time getting removed.
Those that ended up on the list due to excessive chargebacks get removed from the database once the merchant has satisfied all chargebacks and have no other chargebacks from its prior customers. Once this happens, a bank will remove the merchant from the list.
Merchants that were mistakenly entered in the database must work with the bank that put them on the list to get it fixed. If a bank determines after an investigation that adding the merchant to the file was an error, the financial institution must immediately as for a correction.
If all else fails, the only option may be to retain an attorney that specializes in TMF merchant accounts or seek arbitration.
Stay off the list
Since excessive chargebacks are the most common reason to get on the list, merchants should do their best to intercept credit card transactions disputes before they become chargebacks.
When a customer reaches out with a complaint, offer a full refund. This stops a dispute from becoming a costly chargeback.
To avoid a dispute due to the customer not remembering or recognizing a customer, merchants should prominently display the way their names will appear on their credit card statements. Every email, receipt, and correspondence that the merchant sends out also should include a contact number and email address. This information also should be clearly displayed on the business’ website.
Confirmation emails that explain all purchase details, as well as privacy, return, and refund policies, also are good ways to keep customers mindful of transactions. Other pertinent information may include who to call with changes, complaints, or questions.
One of the best to ways to stay off the list is to operate a trustworthy, law-abiding business.
Begin using a chargeback protection program
Get approved by EMB and utilize its chargeback protection program, which can reduce a merchant’s chargebacks by 25%. EMB partnered with Verifi and its new Cardholder Dispute Resolution Network (CDRN) and Ethoca’s alert system to develop a program that caters to high-risk merchants, including TMF businesses, to make it easier to combat chargebacks.
The program allows merchants to achieve the greatest rate of chargeback resolutions while being directly involved in the process because CDRN works with card issuers and banks. TMF businesses can’t afford to get burned by chargebacks again. By using a mitigation program that actively pursues credit card disputes, companies protect themselves getting their TMF merchant accounts shut down.
How to get a TMF merchant account
Once blacklisted, it is still possible to get a TMF merchant account. EMB offers TMF merchant accounts to businesses that can show they no longer owe any money to their former processors. In a perfect world, it would be great if TMF merchants showed they had a recent, clean processing history since the MATCH event, as well as a good explanation as to why ended up on the list and what actions they have taken to keep them from getting blacklisted in the future.
Documents needed to get a TMF merchant account
To obtain a TMF merchant account, businesses must begin by filling out EMB’s simple online application. After submitting the application, merchants will need to submit the following items to underwriters:
- A valid, government-issued ID, such as a state-issued driver’s license
- A bank letter or a pre-printed voided check
- 3 months of the most recent bank statements
- 3 months of the most recent processing statements, if applicable
- A SSN (Social Security Number) or EIN (Employer Identification Number)
- A secure, fully-operational website with trusted privacy and refund policies
- Chargeback ratios must be under 2%
- Proof that no funds are owed to former processors
Though no approval is guaranteed, EMB does promise applicants a reputable, secure process. EMB and its team of experts is dedicated to helping customers operate and succeed in their online endeavors. Apply today and get approved within 24 and 48 hours and begin processing credit card payments.
What to expect during underwriter review
Underwriters determine risk by looking for any questionable practices that could end up financially burdening credit card processors. Ultimately, they want to know that merchants are operating legal, responsible businesses with a stable business model, which won’t result in a high volume of credit card transaction disputes and chargebacks.
During the review, underwriters look at merchants’ credit scores, credit card processing history, bank statements, and their websites. In addition to being shut down by another processor in the past, other factors that impact risk include:
- Negative account balances
- Excessive chargeback ratios
- A history of late or missed payments
The surest way to get a TMF merchant account is to stop any suspicious activity, put some money in the bank, satisfy outstanding bills and debts, and get a principal in the business with the best credit history.
TMF Merchant Account Approval with EMB
We approve merchants on a TMF list.
Are you on a terminated merchant file list? We can still get you a merchant account!
The end isn’t quite the end anymore for someone who finds themselves on the Terminated Merchant File.
Let us help you get on the road to financial recovery at eMerchantBroker.
If your chargeback rate got out of control or there were chargeback sums left unpaid you may have found yourself on the TMF list. At eMerchantBroker.com our policy is to provide specialized merchant accounts to all merchants who need them; even those on the TMF list. Our only requirement is that you have no outstanding unpaid amounts to your previous processors. Contact us to learn more, or simple apply here.
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