To put it plainly, the terminated merchant file is a list of merchants who have been blacklisted for transactions that land them outside the standards agreed upon for the service.  If the standards are breached, the merchants identification number is added to the TMF.  This warns potential service providers that this merchant is extremely risky and the chances of them being able to use account services becomes slim to nonexistent.

The following, are a few things a business should look out for in order to avoid landing on this list:

Too many chargebacks
Unpaid Chargeback Liabilities
Depositing an excessive amount of counterfeit sales
Participating in excessive and consistent fraudulent activity
Money laundering
Identity theft
Merchant collusion

Out of all the possible ways to land on the list, the one to be most vigilant of, is chargebacks.  They are the most common, and likely, the easiest way to end up on the TMF if you are not careful.

History Of The Terminated Merchant File ( TMF FILE )

The TMF was designed to protect banks from dishonest operation, merchants taking part in risky industries and businesses simply not correcting internal issues.  Some would consider the use of the list, at least in terms of modern eCommerce transactions, as a bit outdated.  Over the years, because of the development of newer and better technology, security has become heightened and policies have changed.  A couple of these developments include the use of EMV chips (seen in newer cards), the tokenization of customer data and the initiation of zero liability policies which are aimed at protecting the cardholders.

So, in the unlikely case that you happen to find yourself on the TMF, is there any way to get taken off the list?  The unfortunate answer is, not likely, with a couple very distinct exceptions.  The first possibility would be if you are listed on the TMF in error.  The bank who got you added to the TMF would have to report an error, the list is then corrected and you are formally removed, salvaging your reputation.  Another possible exception would be correcting a noncompliance to a requirement by the PCI/DSS.  Lastly, rectifying existing chargebacks with the bank and ensuring that future ones do not continue is another possible way of removing yourself off the list.

The Mastercard MATCH List #

MATCH is a system created and managed by Mastercard. It is a database that houses information about businesses (and their owners) whose credit card processing privileges have been terminated for a set of very specific reasons. (We’ll discuss this list of detailed reasons in another section below.)

The MATCH list is used by acquiring banks to screen potential applicants (particularly to see if that applicant has been terminated in the past). They do this to assess and control the risk associated with credit card processing. In a nutshell, the MATCH file is like a “blacklist” that banks cross-check when they take on a new merchant so they can avoid being stuck with the bad apples.

In addition to Mastercard itself, acquiring banks have the ability to add/remove merchants to/from the MATCH database when they have justification to do so. In fact, only the acquiring bank who put you on the list has the power to remove you from the list. (Mastercard can remove merchants from the list too, but they generally won’t deal with merchants directly.)


The reality of it is that there are slim chances of finding your way off the list, once you are put on it.  There is however, a potential, tiny light at the end of the tunnel.

Your Best Options For MATCH List Credit Card Processing #

As already mentioned above, depending on the reason you were placed on the MATCH list, a high-risk processor might be able to help you set up a credit card processing account. Sometimes, this means they can help you correct the mistaken reason as to why you were put on the list. Other times, this merely means that they know of backend processors who are willing to take your business (for a higher fee) despite the higher credit risk your business poses.

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