Some lists you want to be on-like the VIP list. But the TMF is one list you don’t want to be on. We’ll talk about what this means for your business, how to avoid getting on the TMF list and what to do if you end up on it.
What is the TMF Match List?
When you apply for a merchant account, the bank will check to see if you are on the Terminated Merchant File (TMF). If you’re on it, this means that another bank has terminated a merchant account with you, and sends up a red flag to banks that you’re a credit risk. The chances are slim to none of getting approved once your name hits the list. Getting on the TMF list is the equivalent of getting blacklisted.
How do you get on the TMF List?
Unfortunately, it’s not that difficult to get on the list but it is a challenge to get removed-even if you didn’t deserve to get on the list in the first place.
All it takes is one accounting mistake (yes, even on the bank’s end), technical glitch or dispute over billing practices and your business is in jeopardy.
So how do you get on the Match File? The most common ways include:
- Credit Card Fraud: If your fraud detection controls aren’t strong enough you could end up with too many chargebacks.
- Friendly Fraud: This is when a consumer disputes a legitimate charge such as from an adult website.
- Factoring: Factoring is when a merchant deposits transactions for sales generated by another business.
- Excessive Chargebacks: approximately 1-2% of sales.
- Fraud: Types of fraud include not delivering products or misrepresenting products or services.
- Violating the merchant agreement
- Owing money to a bank or processor
One of the fastest ways to get on the Match list is to close your merchant account and not pay your last statement. It’s a simple oversight with costly consequences. Even a matter of a couple of dollars can land you on the dreaded list. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest fixes. Read on for tips on getting off the TMF list.
If you have an unscrupulous merchant account provider, you could wind up on the TMF if your provider counts chargebacks in the month it comes in instead of the month the original transaction occurred. If you do fewer sales in the month the chargeback is processed, your chargeback percentage could skyrocket.
How to get off the TMF list
Bad things happen to good people all the time-but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. If you find out that you’re on the TMF list, there is hope-but it will take some work. If you’re thinking that you can get a new merchant account by changing your business name or having a spouse or relative sign up for you, be weary; banks are savvy to this scheme. Banks have ways of finding you out through social security numbers, ISP addresses, and public records.
Depending on why you’re on the TMF, you will have an easier-or a harder-time getting off of it. If you committed fraud, you probably won’t ever get off the list.
As soon as you find out that you’re on the TMF, call your merchant account provider-or the company that placed you on the list. Prepare to work to speak to many departments until you get in touch with the right person. You might end up being referred to the processing bank.
If you believe your business or name was mistakenly added to the Match file, you must work with the acquirer that added the listing to the file. Only the company that placed you on the list is authorized to request a change or deletion of the information.
If your acquirer recognizes that the listing was in error, they must request the file correction immediately. Examples of errors include termination for reasons that don’t warrant a public listing such as inactivity.
To request a change or deletion, the listing bank submits its request to MasterCard International in Purchase New York. The designated individual at MasterCard will review the merchant’s explanation and listing bank’s justification for change or removal from the listing. MasterCard International reserves the right to deny the request. The listing bank must justify its reason for the deletion.
Losing your merchant account and not being able to process credit cards is stressful but try to remain calm and act courteously to every person you talk to, no matter how upset or frustrated you are. Once you reach someone that knows something about your situation-probably in the risk department-he or she should be able to tell you why you are on the match file and explain your options to get off the file. Get a direct phone number for someone that you can correspond with about the situation in the future.
If you were placed on the match file for a high chargeback ratio, time is usually the only thing that will get you off the list. Your bank needs to know that it isn’t going to get stuck with unpaid bills resulting from the merchant’s former customers’ chargebacks.
If you didn’t pay your final bill, you may only need to pay off your debt with your former processor. You could be re-instated after a week or so after you make payment.
On the other hand, you could face more opposition. It can take several weeks to get off the match file in many cases. Sometimes you will have to negotiate to get charges resolved or fees removed. If after a few weeks you don’t make any progress, you may need to hire a lawyer.
Processors often use arbitration to avoid taking individual cases to court. It’s cheaper than going to a court and the results are often better for both parties. If you need legal assistance in getting of the Match file, seek a lawyer with experience in bankcard law.
Read more about how to stay off the TMF MATCH List.
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