What Is The Terminated Match File a.k.a. the TMF
These three letters can turn your business upside down – TMF, a.k.a Terminated Match File.
The Terminated Match File (or TMF) is a list of owners and merchants that have had their merchant accounts closed by processing banks for negative reasons. In short, it’s a blacklist.
Being TMF’d is also referred to as being MATCH’d. So if someone tells you that they are MATCH’d, then you’ll know exactly what kind of situation they are in.
Chances are good that once your name is on the TMF list, you, your partners, and everyone living at your address probably won’t be able to sign-up for a merchant account. That’s how seriously US-based processing banks take the TMF.
Because the TMF can mean the difference between heaven or hell when running your business, allow me to share this guide to help you understand the TMF even more.
We’ll go a bit more in-depth on what the TMF is, how people get listed, and how to get your name off the list, among other things. The goal here is to equip you with as much information to keep you off the list. And if you’re already there – I’ll give you some insights on how you can get your name removed.
How does the TMF factor in when I apply for a merchant account?
When you apply for a merchant account, your new merchant acquiring bank will do a query on the MATCH file. If they find a possible match, the acquiring bank will double check to make sure that the merchant listed is in fact you and not some other party.
They do this to determine whether or not you have derogatory items in your history as a businessperson.
As I mentioned above, US – based processing banks take the TMF list seriously – so much so that even if there aren’t really any rules prohibiting you from having a merchant account when TMF’d, these banks will still decline your application for a merchant account almost 100% of the time.
What usually causes a merchant to be listed on the TMF?
I mentioned how being on the list means your processing bank closed your merchant account for negative reasons. To give you a better idea of what I meant by “negative reasons”, here are a few examples :
- Violation of standards
- Excessive number of chargebacks
- Identity theft of a business owner
- Bankruptcy (since it usually leads to non payment of a merchant bill)
- Data compromise
- Setting a minimum purchase
This of course is by no means a complete list. But these are the most common reasons why merchants endup TMF’d so you ought to be wary of each of these.
What do I do to avoid being TMF’d?
I’ll be honest. There are many things that you need to be wary of to avoid being listed. The problem can come from so many places that learning about each of the possible causes in depth will just cause you unnecessary stress and frustration.
To help you keep your name off the list, I’ll share with you one solution that can a make a world of difference. What solution is that?
Choose your merchant account provider c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y.
If you’re in the hands of a merchant account provider that knows the ins and outs of their craft and has a genuine concern for you and your business, then chances are slim that you’ll be TMF’d. These kind of providers will tell you plain and simple what to do and what not to do.
Because they know how serious of an issue being TMF’d is, they’ll tell you about it on the get-go. They’ll make it as easy for you to understand, they’ll tell you where the red flags are, and more importantly, they’ll make themselves available to you when you have questions.
The last bit is very important: It’s quite natural for business owners to implement changes in their businesses to adapt to the growing market’s needs. Sometimes, these changes can put them at risk of being TMF’d and someone needs to let them know. Or at the very least they should be able to get a hold of someone immediately when they want to ask whether implementing a certain change is OK.
A good place to start if you want to determine whether or not you’re dealing with a merchant account provider that’s worth their salt is to check for reviews and client feedback.
Don’t be lazy in doing your background check. As we’ve already established, landing the right merchant account provider is a serious business. It can spell the difference between you having a smooth sailing business or a stormy one.
If I’m on the list, how do I get my name off?
For starters, you need to know that the best people to help you take your name off the list are the ones that got you there in the first place.
That being said, you’ll want to contact your previous merchant account provider first.
They most likely aren’t the ones who added you to the list since they are only resellers. But they can point you to the back-end company who most likely did. These companies are usually the ones who added you since they are the ones who took on the huge risk of doing your credit card processing. Companies like Global, Nova and FDMS (among many others) are the back-end processors.
Getting yourself removed from the list isn’t such an easy feat. You’ll probably need to make a few phone calls until you get routed to the department who can tell you the reason why you were added to the list.
A lot of people are added due to non-payment. If that’s the case for you, then you can just pay the balance due and then you can be removed. However, if you’re on the list due to chargebacks, you may have to wait for 6 months or so until all possible chargebacks are cleared.
The key here is to be persistent and stay calm when talking to the people on the phone. Most of the people with whom you’ll talk don’t have the authority to make changes so you’ll gain nothing from being rude to them.
When you’re connected to the right department, they will tell you what exactly is the cause for your name being added to the list and they can also tell you what you need to do to be removed.
These companies have different departments so I can’t tell you which one specifically to ask for. However, asking for the risk department is your best bet.
Do you need help?
Because you’re here reading about the TMF, then you’re most likely in some sort of trouble with it.
If you are, then it’s high time that you get an expert to help you with it. There’s no need for you to take on the trouble yourself and and be bombarded with all the neck-breaking jargon these companies will throw at you.
I can help.
Contact us now so we can discuss in detail the things that you need to do to get your name removed in the quickest time frame possible.