The MATCH List: A Breakdown Of Why You’re On It

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March 31, 2022

The MATCH List: A Breakdown Of Why You're On It

The MATCH List: A Breakdown Of Why You’re On It

The MATCH List is a scary place to be, but don’t worry: We’re here to help guide you through the process to get you back up and running, as well as out of that deep, dark black hole. If you have just found yourself on The MATCH List, you may be wondering how you ended up there. There are many reasons as to why—thirteen, to be exact—and some are easier to deal with than others. Keep reading for more information on The MATCH List, a full breakdown of why you’re on it, and what to do to get your business (and your life) back up and running.

What is The MATCH List?

According to Stripe, card networks, such as Visa and Mastercard, operate databases known as Terminated Merchant Files (TMFs) that contain information about accounts that have been closed by credit card processors around the world for high chargebacks or violations of card brand rules.

All processors must check a TMF when accepting a new user, and are also required to add merchants to a TMF if the account is closed and meets TMF criteria. Being placed on a TMF can have serious effects. While they’re only supposed to be informational tools during the account application process, many entities refuse to accept businesses or individuals listed on a TMF. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of TMF criteria and make sure you avoid becoming eligible.

The most common list—and the only one with global reach—is Mastercard’s MATCH, or the Mastercard Alert to Control High-Risk Merchants. In the following sections, we describe how MATCH qualification works and what happens to MATCH entries.

The 13 Reasons You’re On The MATCH List

The 13 reason codes are as follows, according to Mastercard themselves:

  1. Account Data Compromise: An occurrence that results, directly or indirectly, in the unauthorized access to or disclosure of Account data.
  2. Common Point of Purchase (CPP): Account data is stolen at the Merchant and then used for fraudulent purchases at other Merchant locations.
  3. Laundering: The Merchant was engaged in laundering activity. Laundering means that a Merchant presented to its Acquirer Transaction records that were not valid Transactions for sales of goods or services between that Merchant and a bona fide Cardholder.
  4. Excessive Chargebacks: With respect to a Merchant reported by a Mastercard Acquirer, the number of Mastercard chargebacks in any single month exceeded 1% of the number of Mastercard sales Transactions in that month, and those chargebacks totaled USD 5,000 or more.
    With respect to a merchant reported by an American Express acquirer (ICA numbers 102 through 125), the merchant exceeded the chargeback thresholds of American Express, as determined by American Express.
  5. Excessive Fraud: The Merchant effected fraudulent Transactions of any type (counterfeit or otherwise) meeting or exceeding the following minimum reporting Standard: the Merchant’s fraud-to-sales dollar volume ratio was 8% or greater in a calendar month, and the Merchant effected 10 or more fraudulent Transactions totaling USD 5,000 or more in that calendar month.
  6. Fraud Conviction: There was a criminal fraud conviction of a principal owner or partner of the Merchant.
  7. Mastercard Questionable Merchant Audit Program: The Merchant was determined to be a Questionable Merchant as per the criteria set forth in the Mastercard Questionable Merchant Audit Program (refer to section 8.4 of this manual).
  8. Bankruptcy/Liquidation/Insolvency: The Merchant was unable or is likely to become unable to discharge its financial obligations.
  9. Violation of Standards: With respect to a Merchant reported by a Mastercard Acquirer, the Merchant was in violation of one or more Standards that describe procedures to be employed by the Merchant in Transactions in which Cards are used, including, by way of example and not Cardholders, minimum/maximum Transaction amount restrictions, and prohibited Transactions set forth in Chapter 5 of the Mastercard Rules manual.
    With respect to a merchant reported by an American Express acquirer (ICA numbers 102 through 125), the merchant was in violation of one or more American Express bylaws, rules, operating regulations, and policies that set forth procedures to be employed by the merchant in transactions in which American Express cards are used.
  10. Merchant Collusion: The Merchant participated in fraudulent collusive activity.
  11. PCI Data Security Standard Noncompliance: The Merchant failed to comply with Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard requirements.
  12. Illegal Transactions: The Merchant was engaged in illegal Transactions.
  13. Identity Theft: The Acquirer has reason to believe that the identity of the listed Merchant or its principal owner(s) was unlawfully assumed for the purpose of unlawfully entering into a Merchant Agreement.

Most Popular Reasons You’re Likely On It

Attempting to wade through the ocean of reason codes and deciphering which one you may have knowingly or unknowingly committed can be quite challenging. However, more likely than not, you have violated one of the three most popular reason code violations. These include:

  • Excessive Chargebacks. Chargebacks happen, and Mastercard understands this. This is why they allow up to 1% of transactions to become chargebacks. However, once your percentage starts creeping up to 2% or even 3%, Mastercard will add you to the MATCH List. The best way to avoid this from happening is to focus on your customer service, ensure your product or service is as advertised, and that you’re not giving your customers any reason to open a chargeback against you.
  • Excessive Fraud. This particular reason code can be difficult to deal with because it can happen without any of your knowledge or fault of your own. The best way to avoid this from happening in the future is to heighten your business’s digital security, as well as your own personal identity protection.
  • PCI Data Security Standard Noncompliance. This reason code is one of the more black-and-white ones on the list. Either you’re compliant with PCI Data Security Standard, or you’re not. How to avoid it in the future? That’s simple—make sure you’re up to date!

What NOT To Do Once You’re On The MATCH List

Now that you’re on The MATCH List and have an understanding as to why you’re on it, here is what you should NOT do:

  1. Nothing at all. It takes five years to age out of The MATCH List. At that point, you will be wiped clean off from it and there will be no record of you ever having been on it. However, this five-year waiting period can be deadly to most businesses. You don’t have to sit by and let five years pass you by—you can take action.
  2. Stop doing business. You don’t have to stop doing business altogether just because you’re on The MATCH List. While you’re working through the process of getting off, you can still accept payment in other ways.
  3. Get angry with your bank. Don’t call up your bank and instigate an aggressive, volatile, hostile confrontation. We understand you are upset, confused, and angry. However, you will need to work with them in order to get removed. This means: Play nice and be as helpful as you can toward them.

Get Off The MATCH List with TFM Law

Ready to get off The MATCH List and move on with your life? Instead of enduring the five-year waiting period, you can take action now. We can help you gather all the information you need to prove your innocence, get you off the list, and help you navigate the entire process. You’re not alone, and your business (and livelihood) does not have to suffer for a second longer.

The Law Offices of Theodore Monroe focuses on litigation and counseling in the areas of payments, credit card processing, e-commerce, direct response marketing, and Federal Trade Commission enforcement. Last year the firm got 100% of the people who came to us off the MATCH list.

Theodore F. Monroe, Founder of TFM Law, has successfully:

  • Represented merchants recovering funds from processors
  • Structured processing relationships to comply with Card Brand requirements
  • Drafted and negotiated contracts involving payment facilitators and ISOs
  • Represented continuity merchants in compliance and litigation issues
  • Fought for numerous companies in suits brought by the Federal Trade Commission and obtained excellent results for firms in the digital products, loan modification, government grant, and nutraceuticals industries

Before opening his firm, Mr. Monroe practiced law with Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May (now Reed Smith LLP) and Lewis, D’Amato, Brisbois & Bisgaard (now Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith), where he defended numerous accounting and law firms in professional liability actions, and insurance carriers in bad faith actions.

Before becoming a lawyer, Mr. Monroe worked as a forensic accountant at Coopers & Lybrand, which provided him with a background in forensic accounting and financial analysis that is unique among litigators in Los Angeles. Mr. Monroe studied at Duke University Law School, achieved a BS with Honors, Accounting, University of Kentucky, and is a member of the California State Bar and the Kentucky State Bar.

Learn more about us, as well as more information on how to get off MATCH, at

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