What is the MATCH List?

It’s not a place you want to be. Let’s discuss why.

The MATCH List

Let’s get the acronym out of the way: MATCH stands for Member Alert to Control High-Risk. It was created and is managed by MasterCard as a means of compiling information on businesses, and their owners, whose credit card processing privileges have been terminated. This database is then used by acquiring banks to help them screen applicants and determine if businesses should be given credit card processing privileges.

If you’re reading this article then it’s probably because you’ve just landed on the MATCH list (this list is also called the Terminated Merchant File). This can be one of the worst things that can happen to a merchant.

Being placed on this list means that your merchant account has been terminated. It also notifies other companies like Dharma that there’s something not right with your business, which means that you probably won’t be able to find another processor anytime soon. To make matters even worse most merchants aren’t even aware that they’ve been MATCH’d until they apply for a new merchant account and are rejected.

Since this can be the beginning of the end for a business, let’s talk about how you get here, and what you can do to stay off this list in the first place.

How do you get put on the MATCH list?

There are a number of ways you can get placed on MATCH, but here are the most common:

  • A data breach
  • Money laundering
  • Excessive Fraud, or a Fraud Conviction
  • Excessive chargebacks
  • Violation of a card payment industry regulation
  • Collusion with other Merchants
  • PCI non-compliance
  • Illegal transactions
  • Identity theft
  • Mastercard has labeled you as a “Questionable Merchant”

How long does this last?

Five years. You may be able to get your business removed from the list, but it is a long and difficult process, and one prone to failure. To be fully transparent, it is almost impossible to get off MATCH once you are there.

How do you get off the MATCH list?

If you are willing to undertake an arduous process, you may (MAY!) be able to get your company or yourself off MATCH. To start, you have to know why you are there. If it was because of something that can be rectified – like PCI non-compliance or non-payment of chargebacks – then fix it. Once you do, have your former provider contact MATCH and let them know the issue is resolved.

But if you were placed on the list for something serious like fraud or money laundering, it may take years or longer to repair your reputation and get off the MATCH list. More likely, you never will, and trying to will be a lot of wasted energy.

And if you don’t belong there at all, get a lawyer and fight. Look for one that specializes in the payment card industry, as a typical lawyer will not know where to begin.

Can I ever get another merchant account?

Maybe. Dharma will not be able to assist you as long as you are on the MATCH list, but there are high-risk providers who specialize in hard to place accounts. They may be able to assist you. The important thing in that scenario will be to provide as much detailed documentation as possible as to why the MATCH list is a mistake, and you are a viable, reputable business.

In summary

Ending up on the MATCH list is a big deal, and one that could haunt you for years, if not shut you down completely. You are better served by making sure you don’t end up on this list in the first place. That means managing your chargebacks, your PCI compliance, and following payment card industry standards to the letter. And if you do end up on the list and don’t belong there, fight. It won’t be easy, but it may be worth it. Or look for a high-risk processor who will take your business. But really, just don’t get on MATCH in the first place.