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Merchant Account Hold – What it Is, Why It’s Done & How to Avoid It

An extremely important but seldom talked about topic regarding credit card processing is that of merchant account holds. One of the most financially devastating things that can happen to a business is for a processing bank to freeze its merchant account. If this happens to your merchant account, you won’t be able to access the account and your funds from open authorizations will be held without deposit for an undisclosed period of time. This means that you can’t accept new credit card transactions and the income from recently processed transactions will not be deposited for days, weeks or longer.

Merchant account holds are behind many of the horror stories that you may have read about online or heard from friends. Merchants are often portrayed as the victim in these stories, but there are two sides to every coin. In this article I’ll discuss why processing banks hold merchant accounts, how you can avoid having this happen to you and what you can do if a hold is put on your account.

Suspected fraud is often the basis for a merchant service provider putting a hold on a merchant account. In a typical situation providers are the second line of defense against credit card fraud behind the merchant. In an atypical situation where someone opens a merchant account with the intention of using it to defraud cardholders, providers become the first line of defense against fraud.

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