It’s a fear of every merchant: you go through all the effort to secure a great merchant account, only to have it terminated. What do you do?

The first step is to reach out and understand what happened. The reasons can range from inactivity to fraud. You may be able to clear up the situation with a simple phone call. There are a few reasons this might happen, and knowing what they are will help you figure out what action to take to fix it. Other times, however, it might be a more difficult situation to bounce back from. In that case, it’s important to know your options so you can move forward.

Here’s an example. Does this tale sound like you?

I had an online dating site. I knew it was a high-risk venture because of the risk of fraud and recurring payment structure. But I really believed in my business, and thought I would be able to have enough safeguards in place to keep my chargeback ratio under 3 percent, like Visa and Mastercard recommend. I had a difficult time trying to find a merchant account, because of that high risk label, so once I secured an account provider, I thought it would be smooth sailing from there. I couldn’t have been more wrong! After a few months in business, I noticed a lot of unusual activity — and my merchant account provider noticed too. I figured out what was happening: shady users were signing up with anonymous handles, inputting credit card information, and then disputing the charges on the card, resulting in a chargeback. But it was too late. There were so many more chargebacks than I was prepared to deal with, and I knew that a good percentage of them had to be fraudulent. But I was overwhelmed with the amount and couldn’t challenge all of them, and my business was taking a huge hit because of all the fees. It wasn’t long before I got the notice. My merchant account was terminated because of all the fraudulent chargebacks.

That was rock bottom. I didn’t know what I could do from there — I didn’t think any other accounts would have me now that I had this black stain on my merchant reputation. I had such a struggle trying to find an account before this whole mess happened, and it felt like a real catastrophe. I thought I would lose my business and everything I had put into it.

After a few days, I got myself together. I knew I wasn’t the only one who had experienced this, so I did some research. I reached out to my former merchant account provider for a written report about why my merchant account was terminated, and asked if I had been placed on the MATCH list (Member Alert to Control High-Risk Merchants) as a result of my dating site’s merchant termination. I was determined to explore all my options now before I gave up.

I gathered six months worth of processing statements before I lost access to my former processor’s reporting system. Then, I started looking for high-risk processors. Luckily, there are merchant account providers that are just for the people like me: those who wouldn’t be touched by a regular merchant account provider. I found a few, and was very honest about my situation and circumstances. Even though I felt desperate, I was professional and tried to be calm as my applications were processing. I didn’t try to hide or mislead them, because I knew that lying would make my situation worse. I just tried to be genuine and earnest about what had happened, and comply with all their terms.

Finally, I was approved! My new processor really feels like a partner. They are prepared to work with me to resolve chargebacks issues as they come and can help me handle fraud. They helped me figure out what kind of payment processing I really needed for my business, and even give me options for volume growth with a processing limit that grows with my business. Finally, I invested in professional help with the chargeback management process. I thought I could handle it once, but I got burned. I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I’m much happier and more comfortable with my new partners. I thought I had hit a low that I was never going to rise up from when my merchant account was terminated. Now, I’m finally back on my feet.

Termination due to excessive chargebacks can sound scary, but just the like merchant in the story, there are options for you. Even if you have been placed on the MATCH list, it will be possible to find another merchant account. A terminated account is not the end of the world.

If your merchant account was terminated, the best thing to do is research. Figure out what happened, what you can do to fix it, and what merchant accounts to apply to if you can’t. Remember that you’re not alone — there’s always help.

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