TMF/MATCH List and Processing Credit Cards

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TMF/MATCH List and Processing Credit Cards

Running your business depends on being able to take credit cards from your customers. That little credit card processing machine on your till desk sees a lot of action — can you imagine not being able to use it for the next five years? This is the reality for many small businesses that have been placed on the TMF/MATCH List. If you are one of these businesses that have been placed on the TMF/MATCH List and are looking for a way to keep your doors open while sorting through the mess, keep reading for all the information you need on the TMF/MATCH List and processing credit cards.

What is the TMF/MATCH List?

The TMF/MATCH List is not the type of swanky, exclusive list your business wants to be on. In fact, being on this list can mean certain death for many of the small businesses who are placed on it. The MATCH in MATCH List stands for Member Alert to Control High-Risk Merchants. It is a database to alert banks and credit card companies to high-risk merchants whose credit card processing privileges have been terminated. It was created by Mastercard Worldwide and they still maintain the list today.

The information on the TMF/MATCH List is very comprehensive and includes just about everything about your business — this includes the names of business owners and sometimes their associates. This means that opening a new business with a new name won’t work as a loophole once you’re placed on the TMF/MATCH List.

No matter how honestly and ethically you have run your business, you may have landed on the MATCH List by no mistake of your own. In fact, many of the businesses that get on the MATCH List are victims.

How Did I Get on the MATCH List?

There are many ways businesses get on the TFM List. These include:

  • Too many chargebacks
  • Excessive fraud
  • Data breach
  • Bankruptcy
  • Identity theft
  • Violation of standards
  • Illegal transactions
  • Many more

The best way to find out how you got on the MATCH List is by calling your credit card processor. Speak with them to find out the reason you were placed and ways to fix it. Then, you can try to work with them to get yourself removed. If you are able to quickly remedy the issue and prove that you do not deserve to be on the MATCH List, you might have a great shot of being removed entirely without issue. In many cases, having legal representation call the credit card processor can help—and we can handle this for you.

Processing Credit Cards on the TMF/MATCH List

Now that you know what the TMF/MATCH List is and how you may have gotten on it, you’re starting to become concerned about your immediate need: How to keep processing payments and keep your business open. Being placed on the TMF/MATCH List makes it extremely difficult, by design, to be able to process payments. However, this doesn’t mean that you have absolutely no options. Luckily, there are still some ways you can process credit cards on the TMF/MATCH List.

High-Risk Processor

In many cases, you may be able to find a high-risk processor to hold your merchant account. This option comes with higher processing fees, cutting into your bottom line. They also usually come with a long-term contract and an early termination fee, so if you happen to get off of the TMF/MATCH List early, you still may be stuck paying the high-risk processor too much money.


Of course, one option for keeping your doors open and processing payments is by accepting cash only. However, this option isn’t ideal. Most people do not carry cash these days, so many potential sales and customers might walk out of your doors because they are simply unable to pay you. On the bright side, accepting cash only comes with a bit of a learning curve and as your regulars get used to it, you’ll still be able to accept some payments.

Wallet Apps

While most people do not carry cash around, they do indeed carry one thing around: Their smartphones. Accepting wallet app payments such as Apple Pay or Google Pay. This option is a little tricky, however, because you can still be checked against the MATCH List if you’re processing payments through your business name. Doing a person-to-person transaction is the only way this will work.

Cash Apps

Similar to wallet app payments, you can accept payments through other types of cash apps. These include:

  • Venmo
  • Cashapp
  • Paypal

Since the payments are made through an account within an app and not through a bank, this can be one of the easier ways you can accept payments while awaiting your status removal from the MATCH List.

Zelle Payments

Zelle is highly regarded as the best banking app, and you can likely use it while on the MATCH List. Payments are made immediately and directly, acting exactly like a debit card payment (instead of a credit card payment).

How to Get Off The TMF/MATCH List

The tricky part about finding alternative ways to accept payments from customers while you are on the TMF/MATCH List is that your customers might not always be comfortable with it. Whether they simply do not have the cash or the technology to pay you, or if they sense something is fishy about it, it can drive customers away — forever. The best option is getting off MATCH List as soon as possible so that you can keep your merchant account and keep your business open.

Wait 5 Years

The only way you can 100% assuredly be removed from the TMF/MATCH List is by enduring their 5-year waiting period. After 5 years, any record of having been on the list is completely wiped, and you’re back to business as usual as if nothing had ever happened.

However, this can be very unrealistic for most businesses, and this was done by design. The TMF/Match list is used to protect banks and credit card companies from high-risk processors to keep businesses ethical. It weeds out unethical businesses, however, many ethical businesses do fall victim and can seek other options.

Check PCI Compliance

PCI stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard requirements. If your business is somehow violating this compliance, you can be placed on the MATCH List. Luckily, in many cases, if you fix your PCI Compliance to the correct standards, you can be removed.

Getting off Match List can sometimes be as simple as making a phone call to your payment processor. If you can prove that your chargeback rate was below 1%, or that you now have pristine PCI Compliance, you may have a good chance of getting removed.

Legal Options

If you’re not able to convince your processor to remove you from Match List, legal representation can help you. Whether it is having legal representation speak to your processor on your behalf, or filing a lawsuit, you have legal options to protect yourself and your business from the dreaded and deadly 5-year waiting period. You do not have to go at this alone, and we can help you.

About TFM Law

If your business is on the Match List and cannot find other ways to process credit cards, we can help you. 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, and has successfully represented many businesses on the MATCH List. Watch Mr. Monroe explain the Match List FAQs in this video series.

Theodore Monrose 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 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.

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