Terminated Merchant File

EMC Billing can help with your TMF issues

Merchants who have been placed on the TMF list may still be able to obtain a merchant account. There are a number of ways to end up on the TMF list.

The TMF, Terminated Merchant File, or, as it is known now, the MATCH LIST is maintained by Mastercard as a blacklist of terminated merchants. It is used by merchant processing banks to screen potential applicants, who may have been terminated in the past. Banks consult the list when adding new merchant accounts.


When placed on the MATCH LIST, the business name, principal, and any business partners are recorded. They are blackballed from opening new merchant accounts elsewhere. The LIST is used by banks to analyze risks of prospective new merchants. You remain on The LIST for 5 years.

How Did I Get On the List?

There are a number of ways for you to end up on the TMF list. The most common, by far is excessive chargebacks. 

The best way to keep off the list is to be careful and use proper due diligence. Be aware that fraud is out there, and it is up to you to keep fraud at bay, but there are many tools and best practices that could be put in place to avoid problems from the beginning, or mitigate any damage that may have already taken place. 

Here is the full list of ways to be put on The LIST:

  1. Account Data Compromise; This occurs when account data is stolen from the card-present in order to be used with other merchants.
  2. Common Point of Purchase; Account data is stolen from the card-present merchant to be used with other merchants.
  3. Laundering; Merchant processing fraudulent transactions that did not involve a bona fide cardholder.
  4. Excessive Chargebacks; The merchant breached chargeback thresholds that have been predetermined.
  5. Excessive Fraud; Predetermined fraud-to-sales dollar volume thresholds have been surpassed by the merchant.
  6. Fraud Conviction; At least one of the business owners have been convicted of fraud.
  7. Mastercard Questionable Merchant Audit Program; Mastercard guidelines have labeled the merchant a “Questionable Merchant.”
  8. Bankruptcy, Liquidation, Insolvency; The merchant is no longer able to fulfill fiduciary responsibilities.
  9. Violation of Standards; The merchant found to be violating one or more of the card network’s regulations.
  10. Merchant Collusion; The merchant is found to be colluding in fraudulent or suspect transactions.
  11. PCI-DSS Noncompliance; The merchant was found to be compliant with PCI-DSS regulations.
  12. Illegal Transactions; The merchant has processed illegal transactions (careful: This can simply mean moving business from one of your accounts to another account, and is called transaction laundering and is all too common).
  13. Identity Theft; The true identity of the business’s owner has been brought into question.

How Do I Get Off the List?

It is very difficult to get off the list because only the bank that put you on the list can take you off, and the only way they would do that is if there were some major error or misunderstanding that they are required to reverse. 


Banks and processing partners have an obligation to add merchants onto the LIST when they feel that one of these major rules have been broken. Should they NOT put you on the LIST and you find an account with another provider and cause the same problem, the bank that did not follow rules and add you to the MATCH list is responsible for any fines and losses associated with the new merchant account because they did not fulfill their obligation to the new provider by informing them of past rule breaking. Therefore, when you are placed on the MATCH list, it is very unlikely you will get off.


Luckily, there is a limit to how long you can remain on the list, and that is 5 years. After five years, a previous MATCH’d company and principles should be automatically removed from the list. 

The Top 12 Types of Fraud

  1. Application Fraud; This type of fraud usually happens in conjunction with identity theft. It occurs when someone fraudulently fills out an application using your identity. They often will go to great lengths to provide needed documentation, including providing fake employers and fake phone numbers.
  2. CNP (Card Not Present) Fraud; When provided access to the account number and expiration date, fraudsters can take over control of your account, using it for myriad payments. They will often brute force the verification code on the back, as it is only 3 digits, by attempting to make multiple small purchases until they can decode the verification code.
  3. Lost and Stolen Card Fraud; This occurs when someone physically takes control of your card from you, whether someone finds the card or pickpockets it, this requires physical access to your card. The PIN number will only help with debit transactions, and credit transactions may be freely made.
  4. Card ID Theft; Happens when someone surreptitiously takes control of your account info and is provided free access to your account. Often victims will not know this type of fraud has occurred until it is too late. 
  5. Electronic or Manual Credit Card Imprints; This type of fraud happens when someone takes an imprint or skims your information off the electric card reader, often using a magnetic device called a “skimmer.” Always be aware of your electronic card readers and be diligent about checking for skimmers being manipulated into place. Skimmers are often used at places like gas stations, with outdoor credit card readers.
  6. Counterfeit Card Fraud; The fraudster will make physical duplicate credit cards using your card data, often obtained using a skimmer. These copies are fully functional and are effectively dupes of the original card. Sometimes criminals will make less sophisticated fake cards that have non-functioning magnetic strips. They will then try and charm the cashier to enter in details manually. 
  7. Doctored Cards; This occurs when people alter the physical cards to show a different account number and expiry date. The magnetic reader will not work, but often the perpetrators can talk a merchant into entering the account information manually.
  8. Account Takeover; One of the most common types of fraud. A criminal will use your information to contact the bank or creditor and change the address and/or phone number and other info on the account. They will then take complete control and it can be very difficult to fix this type of fraud. They will have a replacement card sent to their address and then will fully have taken over your account.
  9. Fake Cards; A rare type of fraud that uses fake cards with no accounts linked to trick the merchant into accepting a transaction. Unlike other kinds of fraud, these cards are fake from top to bottom and not linked to an individual.
  10. Mail Non-Receipt Card Fraud; This occurs when the criminal steals your card from the mail, they then can often call and activate it. You will often not know this type of fraud has occurred until it is too late, and damage has already been done.
  11. Assumed Identity; This fraud occurs when a criminal uses a fake name and information to be issued a credit card. There are however many safeguards in place.
  12. Friendly Fraud; A type of fraud that is on the rise with the advent of mobile transactions and in-app and in-game transactions. It usually occurs when a child or other member of the household uses a credit card that is not theirs to make surreptitious purchases. This type of fraud is particularly prevalent with many online games.

While a MATCH listing is certainly bad, and difficult, if not impossible to be removed, it does not have to mean the death of your business. If there is a legitmate story and reason to the MATCH listing that does not pose further risk to a payment processing provider, there are providers that will consider your story and still help you with you payment processing needs.


At EMC2Billing, we specialize in difficult payment challenges, and we would love to hear your story and see how we might help secure a strong high risk payment processing partner to help you thrive.