What Is The Terminated Merchant File (TMF)?

In running your business, merchant accounts are a necessary part of day to day business activities. However, you may one day find yourself applying for a new account and denied on the grounds that you are listed on the Terminated Merchant File (TMF). Now this may likely be the first time you’ve heard of this list and you’re now wondering how you got on it in the first place. What follows is a brief overview of what it is and how it affects your business.

The Terminated Merchant File (TMF) or MATCH (Member Alert to Control High-Risk) list is essentially a blacklist used in the banking and credit industries. Created by Mastercard, this list is composed of businesses who have had their credit card processing accounts canceled. It is mainly used by banks who offer merchant accounts to screen their potential clients. They do this to avoid questionable clients or businesses that don’t operate in good faith. Now on the surface this seems like a perfectly logical idea. However, the drawback is Mastercard doesn’t check the list for validity. Basically any company reported by a bank or processing company ends up on the list without Mastercard checking into the report itself to see if its a good reason.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

When you first find out you’re listed as a TMF merchant, your first reaction may very well be one of surprise. That’s because you don’t have to do anything illegal to end up on the list. Being listed as a TMF merchant account simply means you’ve had a credit card processing account canceled at some point. Now credit card processing accounts can be canceled for a wide variety of reasons and many of them are not a sign of crime or dishonest behavior. For example, you can have your credit processing account terminated for excess chargebacks. Some businesses by their very nature or the client base they serve, are simply high risk. Some very mundane businesses are considered high risk just because of their industry to include tobacco merchant accounts, gun / firearms industry, adult businesses and more.

Sadly, once you’ve been listed as a TMF merchant account it makes doing business very difficult. Legalities aside, most banks will not do business with you if you are listed as a TMF merchant account. This makes an opening new merchant accounts for your business practically impossible through traditional means. However, there are options available to you.

Options Available

When you’re listed as a TMF merchant account there are a few different ways you can approach this. You can wait it out and your business will be removed in five years, but this is quite a long time in the business world and it’s time you may not have. Another option is to call the bank that reported you in the first place and ask them to remove you from the list through negotiation or a settlement. This option also requires a great deal of time, several phone calls, paperwork, and no guarantee of success. In some cases, a bank won’t remove you no matter what you do and they consider the matter closed. The last, and in many cases most viable option, is to open a merchant account with a company that deals with businesses that work in high risk industries. Many high-risk industries end up listed as a TMF merchant account as a matter of doing daily business. These companies are experts at dealing with their unique account issues.

As you can see being listed as a TMF merchant account doesn’t mean ruin for business. Being unable to open a merchant account and handle payment processing is no situation that any business can function under. If you’ve been listed as a TMF merchant, contact Painless Processing today. We have years of experience helping businesses in high risk industries and those on the TMF / MATCH lists. Contact Painless to see what your options are and to get the help you need or apply for a merchant account now.

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