Wednesday, 28 Feb 2024

TMF – Avoiding The “Stop-All Flag” List

If you’ve been given the impression that being placed on the Terminated Merchants File (TMF) is always warranted, it is false. Not every business that is placed on the list deserves it. There are many reasons why a merchant can end up on the list, but finding a way to get off of the list can be a real struggle. 

The TMF, or MATCH list, is a list of merchants that have had their merchant accounts closed by their processing banks on negative terms. Banks take the list very seriously, and credit card companies in the U.S. abide by it. Typically, businesses discover that they have been placed on the list when they try to open a merchant account with another company. It is a “stop-all flag” list. If a business is unfortunate enough to be placed on the list, any business partner, the business itself and anyone else at that particular address will be unable to obtain merchant account services with a US based processing bank.

What places a business on the list 

There are different reasons why a business ends up on the TMF list. Many of these reasons are the result of a business’ actions, or lack thereof. When a merchant ends their contract with a merchant provider in a negative way, it can quickly land them on the TMF list. Closing a contract with a provider before your final bill has been paid is also a guarantee of being put on the list.

Some reasons behind being placed on the MATCH list are completely out of a business’ control. High chargeback ratios, frequent processing of fraudulent transactions and breaking a merchant account contract are a few. In addition, running your personal credit card through your own merchant account can also end with having your account closed and being placed on the list. 

How to get off of the list 

There is only one way you can get your business removed from the list. The only company in the world that can remove you is the company that originally had you placed on it. If a final bill was not taken care of, it might be as simple as settling your debt with your former processor. In some cases, the balance may be as low as a few dollars. However, most cases are not that simple.

When a business discovers that they are on the list, the first thing to do is to call your former merchant account provider. It may involve a lot of phone tag until you reach someone you can finally receive answers from. Once you reach someone, they should be able to explain why you are on the match file and what steps you need to take to get off of the file.

If the placement was due to personal misconduct – committing some sort of fraud – it is unlikely that you will ever be removed from the list. Fraud of any kind is not tolerated. As a business owner, if you were the cause of that fraud, no provider will want to offer you their services ever again.On the other hand, if the placement was due to a high chargeback ratio, it will simply taketime to have your business taken off the list. Your processor will want to see that they will not be stuck with unanswered bills from a merchant’s former customer’s chargebacks. 

How to stay off of the list

Staying off of the TMF, or MATCH file, can be as simple as finding the right processor. Signing up with the wrong processor increases a business’ chance of experiencing this setback. If your business is already on the list, it is still possible to find a processor that is willing to work with you.

For industries that are known for their high chargeback rates, it is easy for these chargeback rates to spiral out of control. A TMF merchant account with a high risk provider can guarantee that a business will receive the options and services it needs, despite its present situation., for example, specializes in offering merchant accounts to all merchants; this includes those who are on the TMF list. Their only requirement is that you have no outstanding unpaid amounts from your previous processors.

If you are already on the TMF list, don’t despair. There are still options at your disposal as you work towards removing your business from the list. If your business is just getting started, researching potential processors and knowing what they expect and what they offer can help protect the future of your business.

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