The terminated merchant file, TMF or match file is a database that is maintained by MasterCard and Visa banks (also known acquiring banks) for the purpose of recording businesses that violate their merchant services agreement. This database serves as a reporting agency for the merchant services industry.
All merchant service providers, as a requirement of underwriting, will query new merchant applications against the terminated merchant file to determine if there is a match. The query will include the business name, business address and principal applicant(s) first and last name. If a match is uncovered the application will be declined.
What to do if you are on the terminated merchant file
You must first identify the acquiring bank that placed your business on the terminated merchant file. They are the only entity that can make changes to the listing. Once you identify the acquirer, it’s important to be persistent in requesting the reason for the inclusion on the TMF. It may take multiple calls to identify the right department to gather the information. Remember “kill them with kindness”. You are undoubtedly frustrated with the situation but airing your frustration will only prolong the process and increase your frustration. Once you understand the circumstances that led to your listing, do everything in your power to correct it and have the listing deleted. This may include legal counsel so make sure your hire a specialist if you choose this direction.
How to avoid being included on the terminated merchant file
- Read your merchant account contract carefully and avoid any violations.
- Make sure you remain within the soft limits of your merchant account.
- Make sure you list your business phone number within the descriptor that shows on your customer’s credit card statement. This gives them the information they need to contact your business about questionable charges. You do not want your customers to call the bank directly.
- Provide exceptional customer service and put your customers first. Consumers have a lot of power if they choose to contact their issuing bank to complain about your service and charges.
- Don’t commit fraud.
- Never run a sale for someone else’s business!