MONTREAL -- Quebec's health and social services ministry (MSSS) is raising alarm bells after fake versions of the province's VaxiCode vaccine passport application have been spotted.

"People have copied the visual developed for the VaxiCode application and have succeeded in having these fake applications approved for download on Google Play," the MSSS said in a news release.

The MSSS said it contacted Google and had the fake apps removed from the Google Play store.

The MSSS said the fake apps are not related to the integrity or security of the authentic VaxiCode app.

"These applications are secure and ensure the protection of personal information," the release reads.

For citizens looking to download the app, the MSSS reminds them to search for the exact "VaxiCode" name with no accents and no words before or after.

For merchants, the name is "VaxiCode Verif."

The VaxiCode app only requires access to the smartphone's camera or files/images, and it does not contain any advertising, the MSSS release adds.

The fake apps, the MSSS said, "do not allow you to download its QR code."