Processing Companies Take the Match File Very Seriously… And So Should You!

December 29, 2011

By: Tim Carter
Merchant Services Manager

The Terminated Merchants File (TMF) or match file, is basically a list of merchants that have had their merchant accounts closed down by their processing bank on negative terms. This list, which resembles McCarthy’s “black list” during the cold war, is a stop-all flag that credit card processing companies in America abide by. If you are placed on the match file, you, any partner of your business, your business itself, and possibly anyone at your address, cannot sign up for a merchant account with any and all U.S. based processing banks for up to seven years.

How to get on the list (or what not to do!):
When a merchant ends their contract with a merchant provider in a negative way, their name can be placed on this list. Unfortunately, not all business placed on the list even know they are on it until they try to get setup to process credit cards with another company. The rules to place a merchant on the list are fairly limited, but processors can be very strict about them.

One of the most common ways to get on the match list is to close your contract with a merchant provider and not pay your final bill. Failing to fulfill your contract is almost a guarantee that you will get put on the match file. Your final bill includes any processing costs that you owe, but also includes any monthly, yearly, or termination fees that were specified on your merchant contract.

As a merchant, you are also liable for charge back and other activities for 6 months past the settlement date of the final transaction that was processed on your merchant account. The settlement date is defined as the date that the service or merchandise was fully delivered to and accepted by the customer. Basically, if you sold someone a 1-year gym membership, you are liable for 6 months after they were last billed.

Other reasons you can also be placed on the Match List include:

  • High charge back ratios
  • Processing fraudulent transactions
  • Breaking a merchant account contract
  • Running your own credit card through your own merchant account

What to do to get off the file:
You will be on the match file for a 7-year term. The only way to get off this file is to either let the 7 years lapse or petition the company that put you on the list for removal. It does not matter who you talk to, what they promise, or who they are. It always comes down to working with the company that put you on the match file.

Simply put, because being on the match list is very damaging to your business, you want to stay off of it. You can do that by avoiding the pitfalls listed above. For more information or questions about the Match file, email