High-Risk Merchant Lists and MATCH

Learn about High-Risk Merchants lists and what actions or criteria are grounds for inclusion in them.

Card networks manage databases known as Terminated Merchant Files (or TMFs) that contain information about accounts that have been previously closed by payment processors for high chargebacks or violations of a card issuer's rules.

Being placed on a TMF can have serious effects, as many entities refuse to accept businesses or individuals listed on a TMF. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of TMF criteria to make sure you're never added to the list

Mastercard's Alert to Control High-Risk Merchants (MATCH)

MATCH (or Mastercard's Alert To Control High-Risk Merchants) was created to help banks identify high-risk merchants before signing merchant agreements with them.

When a payment processor terminates a merchant file, they may submit that merchant’s information to the MATCH list. Being on the MATCH list won’t cause you to lose any active merchant accounts in good standing, but you won’t be able to open any new accounts while you’re on it.

All of Mastercard's acquirers are required to check the list before onboarding a new merchant. In most cases, they will reject any merchant included on the list. Some processors do specialize in handling high-risk accounts and will accept these merchants, but they charge expensive rates to accept these accounts.

Criteria for inclusion

Card networks manage databases known as Terminated Merchant Files (or TMFs).

Code Reason Description
1 Account data compromise An occurrence that results, directly or indirectly, in the unauthorized access to or disclosure of Account data.

Common point of purchase

Account data is stolen at the Merchant and then used for fraudulent purchases at other Merchant locations.
3 Money 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 The number of Mastercard chargebacks in any single month exceeded 1% of the number of sales transactions in that month, and those chargebacks totaled USD 5,000 or more.
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.
7 Fraud conviction There was a criminal fraud conviction of a principal owner or partner of the Merchant.
8 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.
9 Bankruptcy, liquidation, or insolvency The Merchant was unable or is likely to become unable to discharge its financial obligations.
10 Violation of Mastercard standards The Merchant was in violation of one or more Standards set forth in Chapter 5 of the Mastercard Rules manual.
11 Merchant collusion The Merchant participated in fraudulent collusive activity.
12 PCIDSS non-compliance The Merchant failed to comply with Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) requirements.
13 Illegal transactions The Merchant was engaged in illegal Transactions.
14 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.


Information added to MATCH*

The card networks require that the following be added to MATCH if available:

  • Business Legal Name and DBA
  • Business Address
  • Business Phone Number
  • Business Tax ID
  • Business URL
  • Principal Owner Name
  • Principal Owner Address
  • Principal Owner Phone Number
  • Principal Owner Tax ID
  • Account Opening Date and Termination Date
  • MATCH Reason Code

*Note: Mastercard does not assess the accuracy of MATCH listings

Getting removed from MATCH

Unfortunately, you cannot usually remove an account’s information from MATCH upon request. A processor can only remove a MATCH entry if:

  • The account was added to MATCH in error.
  • The listing is for MATCH reason code 12 and the processor has confirmed that the business has become PCI DSS compliant.

If this applies to your situation, you'll need to reach out to the payment processor that listed your information on MATCH for removal. Records remain on the MATCH system for 5 years before being automatically purged by Mastercard.

What to do if you are listed on MATCH*

Reach out to your previous processor to find out why your information was added to MATCH in the first place. Note, however, that MATCH criteria are determined by Mastercard and processors are required to follow this criteria. Paystand, for example, cannot remove a merchant that met the “excessive chargebacks” criteria even if the business has fixed the issues leading to chargebacks.

Note:* Paystand typically cannot process for businesses listed on MATCH.

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