Thursday, June 10, 2010

Terminated Merchant File (TMF) What is it? Q & A

What is the MATCH / TMF File?

When consumers do not honor the terms of their credit agreements, the creditor may report the default to a credit reporting agency. If the consumer applies for additional credit, the new creditor obtains a credit report and learns about the consumer's previous history. The merchant processing banks (also known as "acquiring" banks) do not have a similar credit-reporting agency available that can report information about the way that a business handles its merchant processing responsibilities. The card associations, instead, use a file known as "MATCH." The MATCH File is a database file, previously and most commonly known as the Terminated Merchant File "TMF." This file is used by MasterCard and Visa processing banks, known as "acquiring banks," to identify specific merchants and principals who have already been terminated. Once a merchant is on this list, it is highly unlikely that future merchant account applications will be approved. The "TMF", or MATCH list, is essentially a BLACKLIST from which it is almost impossible to be removed.

How exactly is the MATCH file used when I apply for a Merchant Account?

Your new merchant acquiring bank must query the MATCH file to determine whether your company, or its principals, has been terminated. If your new acquirer receives a response indicating a "possible match" against a merchant or individual listed on the file, the acquirer must double check and make certain the listed merchant or individual is truly the same as the one for which the inquiry was generated. If so, the acquirer must contact the listing bank to determine why the business or individual was added to the file.

If a previous acquirer listed your business or your name, that does not mean you are prohibited from obtaining merchant processing privileges in the future. The new acquirer is to base its approval decision on complete investigation and to use the MATCH file as an informational tool in the decision making process. Some acquirers will issue an approval conditioned upon having the listing removed by the prior processor while others will review the circumstances surrounding the listing and make an informed decision.

What if I am on the Terminated Merchant File and I apply for a new merchant acct? Can I get approved?

Believe it or not, you can be approved for a new merchant acct, while on the Terminated Merchant File...unfortunately, the account will most likely be closed before you get a chance to use it. Here's why:

Merchant service providers are constantly pressured to get merchants approved faster. Faster!! FASTER!!! It is not uncommon for some merchants to be auto-approved, immediately upon submitting their application. Merchant service providers send off the names of their approved merchants to be checked against the Terminated Merchant File. Getting the results back can take up to 3 business days. So, it is possible to apply for an account, have it approved, activated, setup, and then closed by the security department once the information comes back that you are on the TMF.

What if my Merchant Account is terminated?

It is very important to read your merchant processing agreement and understand the circumstances unde

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