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Terminated Merchant File | What it is and how to avoid it

Posted by Alex Neir on Wed, January 04, 2012 @ 03:40 PM
Terminated Merchant File

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!

Tags: Match File, TMF, Terminated Merchant File

Match or The Terminated Merchant File (TMF) – Beware

Posted by Alex Neir on Tue, July 12, 2011 @ 03:15 PM
Terminated Merchant File

Match or The Terminated Merchant File (TMF) – Beware

The Match file or, more commonly know as, the terminated merchant file or TMF is a database that the credit card processing industry uses to log merchants that have violated the terms of their contact and have subsequently been terminated.

Similar to how the major credit reporting agencies track consumer behavior in an effort to establish a credit profile. The Match or TMF database is used to flag business and principals that have miss-managed their merchant account in the past and been terminated.

When an application for merchant services is received the processor will query the Match or TMF database to determine if the business or principals have been terminated in the past. If a possible match entry is indicated it is the responsibility of the processor to determine if the entry is for the same business and/or principal(s) seeking account approval. If an exact match for business or principal is determined the processor will then inverstigate the reason for the match entry. At that point the account will be declined or a conditional approval will be granted which states that full approval is subject to the pervious processor removing the Match entry.

Once a business or principal is placed on the Match or TMF it is extremely difficult to get a merchant account approved. It is also very difficult to get a business or principal removed from the match or TMF database.

If you find that you or your business is on the Match file it is very important to determine what processor placed you on the file. Next you will want to contact that processor to determine the reason. Once you have determined the reason it is essential to rectify the situation, if possible and request removal from the database. 

Tags: Match File, TMF, Merchant Account Termination, Terminated Merchant File